Mind the gender gap in engineering says Hartlebury MP

A GOVERNMENT promise to commit to a plan of action on engineering skills has been welcomed by Hartlebury's MP.

The undertaking was given by Skills Minister Matt Hancock as Conservative MP Peter Luff continued his campaign to get more young people into careers in engineering, with a debate in the House of Commons.

He and Robin Walker, Conservative MP for Worcester, also praised an initiative of Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (WLEP) to build better links between businesses and schools.

Mr Luff called the debate on a review recently published by the business department’s chief scientific adviser. He explained: “Professor John Perkins’ Review of Engineering Skills has been well received within the engineering community.

"I called for the debate as I wanted to make sure that the Government was taking action to implement the recommendations in the report.”

How to encourage more women into the engineering profession was also a major topic of the debate and Mr Luff highlighted a feature on careers in Top Gear magazine on careers in Formula One.

In the debate Mr Luff said: “There are 40 images of a Formula One team. All are white men except the press officer and, of course, the six hospitality staff, in short skirts, of course. I think actually even Jeremy Clarkson might be embarrassed a bit by the stereotypes portrayed in this article.

“The girls at Silverstone University Technical College, which the article purports to be about, are very cross that they are being so badly misrepresented by the magazine.”

After the debate Mr Luff said: “Although this is only one light-hearted article in a magazine, it highlights a more broad and important point. There are too many gender stereotypes that exist within engineering and this is putting women off.

“We must make engineering more diverse, not for the sake of political correctness but, of course, the members of the ethnic minorities and the women that are not engineers but could be missing out on one of life's great opportunities.

“And because engineering skills shortages would be considerably less acute if we could make it more diverse.”

Responding, Mr Hancock said: “Things are moving in the right direction but I do not deny that there is much more to do, hence the Perkins report. We accept the Perkins report and we will take forward all the Government actions within it.

“I want to ensure that we drive the recommendations forward. I have no doubt that we will continue to debate the subject so that we can maintain the cross-party, cross-Government national campaign to ensure that the shortage of engineers is dealt with and the supply chain is wide open.”

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