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YouGov poll: 1 in 2 young women put off technical careers due to lack of gender diversity

11 March 2018

New survey findings show that over half of young women aged 18-24 (53 per cent) are put off electrical and plumbing careers because of concerns about a lack of gender diversity in the existing workforce, according to research commissioned by ECA, JTL and JIB.

Despite industry progress towards gender and other diversity in recent years, almost one in four young people (36 per cent) in the UK believe a lack of gender diversity is still a barrier to entering the electrical and plumbing industries. This compares to just 15 per cent of adults in the 55 and over age group.

Even though the number of companies with diversity success stories is increasing, 30 per cent of young people also said that an old-fashioned hiring culture was a major barrier to entering these industries. Only nine per cent of adults aged 55 and over felt this was an issue.

ECA, JTL and JIB commented:

“Considerable effort has gone into encouraging young women to join the engineering services industry, and there are now plenty of examples of where women are making a tremendous contribution to the sector.

“However, these findings clearly show that there is still a major diversity challenge. The electrical and plumbing industries will need to respond to the message from this survey, which is that much more needs to be done to improve gender diversity and the approach to hiring new staff.

“Engineering services must draw its new entrants from across the UK talent pool if it’s going to meet the needs of the future. It’s vital the industry reviews how it’s approaching diversity and what’s needed to move to the next level.”

Despite considerable career opportunities in engineering, the survey also found that women are seven times less likely than men to apply for technical careers such as engineering, electrical work, plumbing, and building trades. Instead, women were more likely than men to consider careers as lawyers, teachers and doctors.

Overall, just eight per cent of the population said they had ever considered a career as an electrician or plumber. Just two per cent of women said they had done so, compared to 15 per cent of men.

The findings come as National Apprenticeships Week launches across the UK, shining a spotlight on practices across engineering and construction disciplines. JTL runs a thriving apprenticeship ambassador scheme focused on women and BAME groups, ECA runs a successful award for apprentice of the year, and JIB runs a long-standing apprentice exchange programme. ECA and JIB both have policies and guidance for members on fair and open recruitment.

ECA is the leading trade association representing employers within the UK’s electrotechnical and engineering services industry, JTL is the leading apprenticeships training provider, and the JIB sets the standards for employment, welfare and apprentice training within the industry.

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