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The benefits of a diverse engineering workforce

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The engineering sector is a pillar of innovation and progress, shaping the world we live in. But the sector continues to be plagued by a lack of diversity.

What’s more, fewer than one in ten businesses take particular action to increase underrepresented groups into their workforces.

The scale of the problem

This isn’t an issue which is specific to one underrepresented group or another, impacting a wide variety of different groups highlighting a broader issue in both depth and breadth. 

For instance, despite making up half of the overall national workforce, women accounted for just 16.5% of the engineering workforce in 2021. While this was up from 10.5% in 2010, many women in the industry are in related rather than core engineering roles.

As a further example, only 9% of engineers are from ethnic minority backgrounds, despite ethnic minority students accounting for 30% of engineering university graduates.

And the groups affected don’t stop there. Just 24% of the engineering workforce come from low socio-economic backgrounds, largely because of low participation and attainment in the engineering educational pipeline, while 29% of LGBTQ+ young people avoid careers in science, technology and engineering due to worries about discrimination. Indeed, a 2015 report found that homophobia costs the engineering industry £11.2bn a year due to bullying and pressures on LGBTQ+ engineers in the workplace.

These issues don’t only lead to a workforce lacking in diversity – bringing with it the associated weaknesses – but also means that the sector is potentially failing to tap into huge pools of potential talent that could address the skills gaps in the sector.

Benefits of diversity and inclusion

Increased innovation and problem-solving capabilities

Diverse teams are better equipped to face challenges because they can draw on a broader range of skills, experiences and viewpoints. As employees from different backgrounds offer fresh insights and solutions, this fosters a more creative and innovate work environment. 

Increased adaptability and flexibility

In turn, organisations with diverse teams are often more adaptable to changes in the industry. The ability to embrace different perspectives allows them to respond more effectively to evolving customer needs and demands. This is particularly relevant in a sector such as engineering, where modern technologies are constantly advancing.

Improved employee performance and satisfaction

In an inclusive work environment, employees feel valued, respected and supported. According to a study by the Royal Academy of Engineering, 80% of engineers said that feeling included at work increased their motivation, 68% said it increased their overall performance, and 52% said it increased their commitment to their organisation.

Improved decision-making

Diversity in the workplace can lead to a more thoughtful and well-rounded decision-making process. The more alternative viewpoints and opinions that are heard, the greater the likelihood of making the correct, informed decision.

Broader talent pool

Embracing diversity helps not only attract, but also retain, top talent from a variety of backgrounds. It allows organisations to tap into a wider pool of qualified candidates which, as outlined above, can lead to a more innovative, adaptable and motivated workforce.

How can hiring apprentices help?

Apprenticeships help people of all ages and backgrounds to realise their potential. Hiring apprentices is a convenient and cost-effective way to bring fresh talent and new ideas into your organisation, while simultaneously diversifying your workforce and helping your business become more inclusive.

At Total People, we can provide your business with front row access to a diverse talent pipeline; 30% of our Engineering learners are from ethnic minority backgrounds (Engineering and Automotive learner data report 2018 – 2023).

Furthermore, if your businesses’ annual wage bill is less than £3m, you’re eligible for 95%-100% funding for the cost of hiring an apprentice, via the apprenticeship levy

All of our Engineering programmes combine full-time work with part-time study, with learners attending our engineering training workshops to learn practical and technical skills. 

If you’re interested in recruiting apprentices or want to find out more, Total People can help you every step of the way. Our dedicated team can design bespoke recruitment plans to suit your specific needs, while our free recruitment service includes advertisements on the Total People and National Apprenticeships Service websites.

Get in touch via our website or call us today on 0333 242 8630.

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