The Royal Academy of Engineering has collaborated for over a year with a group of engineering employers to create an Engineering Engagement Programme (EEP) aimed at attracting undergraduates from diverse backgrounds into the profession.


Current statistics show room for improvement in rates of transition into engineering employment for students on engineering degrees. While around 25% of UK-domiciled engineering undergraduates are from ethnic minority backgrounds, only 6% go on to work in the profession. A similarly low rate exists for women, with around 17% on undergraduate engineering degrees and only 6% working in the profession.  These disappointing rates of transition into engineering tally with findings from the 'Pathways to success in engineering degrees and careers[1]’ report published today by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The report shows that fewer than half of engineering graduates go into professional engineering jobs.


Social disadvantage has long been recognised as a barrier to entering the professions: the Perkins’ Review of Engineering Skills[2] reports that engineering employers tend to target the same narrow group of Russell Group universities – universities which tend not be attended by high proportions of young people from ethnic minority or socially disadvantaged backgrounds.


According to research commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering, engineering graduates secure well-paid employment in high proportions, but a significant proportion of ethnic minority graduates and graduates from the newer Post 92 universities remain unemployed six months after graduation[3]. One of the EEP’s goals is to positively impact this situation. The programme is designed to attract and engage ethnic minority, socially disadvantaged and female undergraduates on relevant degree courses. It is expected that it will contribute to creating a level playing field between more and less privileged students at the point of recruitment.


The research was presented to an initial group of eleven engineering companies, now thirteen. All employers involved are focused on meeting future skills needs and recognise the potential to widen their net and proactively engage with untapped talent. Engineering UK projects the UK will need 1.82 million[4] people with engineering skills between 2012 and 2022, which means doubling of the number of graduates entering the industry. The EEP is just one workstream the thirteen involved employers are pursuing to increase diversity and address skills needs. In addition to the spotlighting attraction and engagement, companies are also committed to internal review and improvement of their graduate recruitment practice, as well as the retention, support and development of employees from diverse backgrounds.


Eleanor Radbourne, Global Head of Talent Management at Rolls-Royce plc, one of the first companies to support the programme, says:

“The Engineering Engagement Programme is exactly the kind of activity Rolls-Royce plc should be supporting. It provides a route to securing our future supply of skills, and to inspiring the next generation of engineers. We are delighted to be steering the programme along with 12 other engineering companies as it gives us an ideal opportunity to raise our profile across universities providing the engineering qualifications we are after. What also I like about the Programme is that it is encouraging us to look internally to ensure we are creating a culture that supports difference, innovation and creativity.”


Attention has been paid to increasing the number of women working across engineering for many years. The Academy Diversity Programme is complementing and extending this work to encompass other diversity characteristics, with a focus on diversity and inclusion. 


The first phase of the EEP, which launches 22 July 2015, is the Engineering Uncovered Summer School (EUSS), a three-day intensive education programme followed by two days of company visits. The second phase, Engineering Fast Track (EFT), consists of a series of workshops running between September and February 2015.


Our Engineering Uncovered Summer School students enjoying training from SelexES
Both phases are designed to increase exposure to engineering employers, increase understanding of career paths, connect students with engineering employer mentors and demystify selection processes.  Students will compete for opportunities across companies, alongside applicants who have not been on the programme. The ultimate objective is to provide those from groups underrepresented across the profession with the insights, understanding and connections taken for granted by those from more privileged backgrounds.


The EEP will be delivered in partnership with an external partner, SEO London, who has a track record of developing programmes to increase the employability of groups of interest to engineering employers and all companies take an active role in steering the programme.




For more information, please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: | 020 7766 0655

E:|  Jane Sutton



Notes for Editors

Royal Academy of Engineering
As the UK's national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK's role as a great place to do business.

We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK's world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering.
We are a national academy with a global outlook. We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.


Background to the Academy Diversity Programme
Since 2011, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society have been funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) to run a 5-year programme of work to increase diversity and inclusion in the STEM workforce. The Diversity Programme brief is to lead the ‘mainstreaming’ of diversity in all its aspects arcoss the engineering profession.

The Academy works with the Royal Society across a number of areas of overlap, including data gathering, pilot activities, showcasing role models and events. The programme has established productive links with key stakeholders, particularly professional engineering institutions (PEIs) and engineering employers. The other focus of the programme continues to be proactively collaborating with partner organisations and to deliver activities and research that supplement the existing literature, good practice and available evidence on diversity and inclusion.

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Pathways to engineering Report
The Pathways to success in engineering degrees and careers report was undertaken by the University of Liverpool Engineering and Materials Education Research Group on behalf of the Royal Academy of Engineering. It highlights the graduate skills supply issues in engineering through detailed examination of routes into and out of higher education for future professional engineers. The research here also shows that students who study engineering at post 1992 universities (former polytechnics) are just as likely to get professional engineering jobs as those from Russell Group and other pre-1992 universities. In some cases post-1992 students are in fact more likely to take up good engineering jobs. 

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