As you may have seen, this week is Tomorrow’s Engineers week, the aim of which is to demonstrate the impact engineers have on the world and thus inspire the next generation of engineers. Today also happens to be This Is Engineering Day, looking to give a more representative view of engineers and engineering.

It is estimated that we could see a shortfall of up to 60,000 engineers in the coming years. This will be a huge problem for our sectors if we cannot encourage more people to become engineers. This means requirement needs to be widened, looking to non-traditional backgrounds and reaching out to people who may never have considered engineering as a career option.

Just 11% of engineers are women so they should be most obvious talent pool to be tapped into to help address our skills shortage. To inspire and retain, not just women, but any new engineers, the right mechanisms must be put in place to help them thrive.

Charters for Greater Gender Balance

As part of industry’s journey towards greater diversity and inclusion in the past 18 months we’ve seen the launch of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace Charter and the Women in Defence Charter. Signatories are committing to be the very best at driving inclusion and diversity within their organisations and providing opportunities for women to succeed at all levels working towards more balanced industries.

Already more than 200 signatories and supporting organisations have committed to the two Charters, it is striking how supportive industry is of greater diversity and inclusion. Businesses see the benefit of this and now we must work on implementing it, so that the future workforce is representative of society, and we have access to all the skills and expertise that are on offer without alienating people.

Diversity of Thought

The importance of diversity and inclusion isn’t exclusive to gender balance, there needs to be better representation of society as a whole – BAME, LGBTQ+ and those with disabilities.

If there isn’t a variety of representation in in the room where decisions are made then the diversity of thought is limited. Decision makers may think they can sympathise with people outside of their own background but often we can’t always see things from other perspectives and often struggle to empathise as we aren’t from those groups and don’t have the same shared experiences.

This is why balance is so important, by encouraging more diversity we aren’t looking to exclude anybody, merely include more people from different backgrounds.

Diversity and Innovation

With greater diversity in the workforce, there is room for more innovation. Everyone knows that the more you think outside of the box the more innovative you’ll be, and the same is true for having different people who think in different ways. Having a more diverse workforce will help solve some of the industry’s biggest challenges such as sustainability; we’re more likely to get different results and foster innovation.

If you’d like to find out more about the Women in Aviation & Aerospace Charter or the Women in Defence Charter, please contact Heather Gilchrist.