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BIS:- £30 million fund to secure supply of engineers and boost number of women in sector

Matthew Hancock has today (12 June 2014) announced a £30 million fund to increase the supply of engineers.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock has today (12 June 2014) announced a £30 million fund to increase the supply of engineers, to encourage more women into the sector and to address engineering skills shortages in smaller companies. The fund will enable engineering companies to establish training programmes to develop future engineers and boost the number of women in the profession.

£10 million of the fund will be directed to a call to ‘Developing Women Engineers’ and £10 million to a call to ‘Improving Engineering Careers’. A further £10 million will be made available in the autumn to develop engineering skills in smaller companies. The calls have been developed in consultation with professional institutions and leading engineering companies from across the sector.

Speaking at the launch of the Manufacture your Future initiative in the West Midlands, Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

Skills are central to the UK economy and our long-term competitiveness. In order to allow UK engineering to grow and compete on the world stage we need a guaranteed supply of highly skilled and talented engineers.

As highlighted in the Perkins Review, the engineering sector is currently failing to draw on the whole talent pool. By supporting employers to develop the workforce of the future and bring more women into the engineering, we’re empowering the industry to unlock its potential.

The announcement forms part of the government’s Employer Ownership Fund that enables employers to design training projects that can address skills shortages holding back their business, providing 50% match funding to employers.

‘Developing Women Engineers’ and ‘Improving Engineering Careers’ are the first of a series of focused calls, centred on priority sectors that play a key role in ensuring the UK’s global economic competitiveness. Prospective bidders are encouraged to explore how they can support employees, particularly women, looking to return to the sector and how individuals with relevant skills can be helped to progress to become fully qualified engineers.

The calls come as a direct response to recommendations made in Perkins Review of Engineering, published in November 2013. Professor Perkins’ review of skills within the engineering sector recommended the government invite employers to put forward innovative proposals to develop engineering skills in sectors suffering acute skills shortages.

The government is working together with industry to address these critical issues and establish the skills training that can guarantee a vibrant and prosperous UK engineering sector. This follows a call to action announced in May 2014 supported by over 170 leading organisations across business, education and the third sector. The call to action will create some 2,000 employment opportunities aimed at increasing diversity and put in place a raft of measures geared towards increasing take-up across science, technology, engineering and maths.

Minister for Women Nicky Morgan said:

I am pleased to announce that the government is providing £10 million to help women progress as engineers. We need to move away from the perception that engineering is a ‘man’s world’. Without women pursuing careers in engineering, UK companies are missing out on a vast pool of talent.

The Employer Ownership Fund empowers employers to work with government to solve skills challenges that cannot be supported through mainstream funding. The fund is focused on combating skills shortages in key strategic sectors such as engineering and automotive due to the role they play in driving growth and the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Terry Scuoler chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation said:

The lack of engineering skills in the UK has become a ticking time-bomb, and manufacturers are investing heavily in their current and future workforces to prevent it from exploding. This must include investing in all sections of our workforce, in particular women where the UK has an especially poor record. What has been needed is extra support to push companies to adopt more innovative solutions to truly tackle the skills shortage and gender imbalance that exists in our industry.

The fund announced today will do just that and we will be encouraging manufacturers to get involved and take this opportunity to tackle the skills challenge head-on.

Investing in England's North West - European Regional Development Fund
Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham