The scale of the UK skills shortage in engineering, coupled with a current engineering workforce that is 92% male and 94% white, creates a need for action to improve diversity and inclusion within the profession at all levels, according to a report by the Royal Academy of Engineering. Reviewing the first five years of its Diversity in Engineering Programme, the Academy also sets out its vision of a future with wider attraction to the profession and an inclusive culture that welcomes and nurtures engineers from all backgrounds.

Over 150 Academy Fellows, stakeholders and industry partners will gather at the Institution of Engineering and Technology in London on Wednesday 1 June to launch the report, reflect on the last five years and share strategy and plans for the next phase of the programme.

The lack of diversity in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions is a problem that has been of concern to government and industry for many years. Following the 2010 Comprehensive Spending Review, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) asked the Royal Academy of Engineering to lead on tackling diversity in engineering. In response, the Academy set up its Diversity Programme in 2011, to stimulate action across the engineering profession.

EngineeringUK estimates the current shortfall of engineers in the UK at 69,000 a year. The Academy’s new Diversity and Inclusion strategy aims to remove barriers to becoming an engineer and addresses the need to create more inclusive cultures that will attract, recruit and retain more female, ethnic minority, disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, older and young people from all socio-economic backgrounds into engineering employment.

The Academy has successfully assisted employers and professional engineering institutions, and partnered with them to influence the landscape of the industry. It has also raised awareness, shared best practice and driven change across the profession by:

  • Setting up a Diversity Leadership Group, which has directly engaged with 50 employers and employer-led organisations and published a case study toolkit and benchmarking report to support increasing diversity and inclusion across engineering employment
  • Establishing a Engineering Diversity Concordat, which 32 organisations have signed in support of increasing diversity and inclusion across professional engineering institutions
  • Co-developing the industry-led 10 steps WISE framework with 49 companies now signed up to sustaining and progressing their female staff
  • Running a three year Higher Education Employer Diversity Pilot Project with 13 employers and SEO London to broaden diversity of engagement with students
  • Supporting InterEngineering, a network to connect LGBT engineers, encourage dialogue, and promote diversity and inclusion

Dervilla Mitchell CBE FREng, Director at Arup and incoming Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, says: “We have learnt a lot during the last five years about the nature of the diversity and inclusion challenge and approaches that work. We are on a journey in an industry that is changing and so we need to evolve as we enter the next phase. Our focus going forward is to be more explicitly centred on what we can do well to galvanise the profession and increase inclusion. We will build on our successful activities and find ways to collaborate with others to help deliver the diversity and inclusion we aspire to across all fields of engineering.”

Philip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “The Academy recognises that we have a responsibility to lead action to address the engineering skills crisis and the Diversity Programme is a key component in this. Working with a large number of partners in the first phase of the programme has enabled us to put in place a strong platform, and much has been achieved.”

Notes for editors

  1.   Download the Diversity Programme Report 2011-16
  2. 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:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0636
Jane Sutton