Getting girls into STEM is key to success of UK industrial strategy says EDF

Getting girls into STEM is key to success of UK industrial strategy says EDF

Inspiring young women to take up STEM careers is critical to filling future skills gap in science and tech, as a new report indicates that jobs in these sectors are expected to increase faster than other occupations.

Science, research, engineering and technology jobs will grow at double the rate of other vocations, creating 142,000 extra jobs between now and 2023, according to the Jobs of the Future study conducted by the Social Market Foundation (SMF).

The report was commissioned by EDF as part of its “Pretty Curious” programme, which aims to inspire more girls to consider careers in STEM.

It suggests that the pace of digital innovation and infrastructure investment are some of the key growth drivers in science and tech jobs. Computing skills, for example, will be one of the most in demand in the future, yet women are particularly underrepresented in such roles.

The report identified a dearth of female workers in industries such as architecture (10 per cent), specialist construction (eight per cent) and construction, (13 per cent), which it says are significant job creators of the future.

Furthermore, in 2016 women accounted for only 19 per cent of the workers in science, research, engineering and technology, amounting 462,000 women. It suggests the figure would be 1.2 million if there was a gender balance in the industries.

It highlights that construction (43 per cent), and specialist construction (63 per cent) are creating the highest number of new jobs. However, it warns that there will be a shortfall in the number of graduates and apprentices available to fill these roles, including a 40 per cent shortfall in engineering.

The study concluded that more girls will need to study science subjects at school, further education and higher education in order to fulfil the expected demand for roles in 2023 and support the UK’s industrial strategy.

If you are interested in how to tackle the skills gap and avoid a lost generation of female workers, join the CBI, Coca Cola, KPMG, Dell, Department for Education, EasyJet and many more at the First Women Summit 2017.

Nida Broughton, chief economist at the Social Market Foundation, said: “Investments in infrastructure and the pace of technological innovation means growth in science, research, engineering and technology careers will continue to outpace other occupations.

“That’s a big opportunity for today’s girls and a challenge for the UK’s industrial strategy. It’s essential that we invest in the skills and training so that the UK can meet this demand – and encouraging more women to consider science will be critical to our success.”

As part of the ‘Pretty Curious’ programme, EDF Energy has launched a virtual-reality film to immerse girls in the worlds of three successful women working in STEM-related industries.

Sarah Flannigan, chief information officer at EDF Energy said: “As well as investing in digital innovation and R and D to help our customers manage their energy better, we are building the first new nuclear power station for a generation.

“We rely on the talents of people with a variety of STEM skills and recognise the critical need to inspire more young women to enter these fields.

“That is why we’re aiming to increase our intake of female STEM apprentices to 30 per cent by 2018 and we hope by using innovative technology that appeals to teens, we will reach more girls and inspire them to consider science and technology careers.”

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