BP has welcomed the findings of a national report which shows that Britain needs to more than double its engineering graduates and attract many more women into the profession.
The report, supported by BP, and produced by the Institute of Public Policy Research, shows that an additional 87,000 graduate-level engineers are needed every year, until 2020.
The analysis presented in the report reveals that the critical point at which women are lost to a potential career in engineering is at the age of 16. A-level and vocational subject choices made at this age cut off the pathway into careers in engineering for far more women than men.
In 2013 some 72,000 girls achieved grades A* to C at GCSE in Physics, but just 10% of these went on to take physics at A Level.
It highlighted the need to encourage young girls to think of engineering as a career and take STEM subjects for A’levels.
According to BP’s Chief Scientist Angela Strank this is a huge challenge, but having more engineers, and specifically more female engineers, will bring additional benefits.
She said “There’s nowhere near enough engineering graduates to meet the needs of British industry. In particular, there’s a desperate shortage of women. This report shows young girls still see engineering as a career for clever boys. We all need to do much more to stop girls excluding themselves from these career options at a very young age.”
BP’s Fuels Development Technologist , Ruth Poultney said: “From an early age, I enjoyed finding out how things work. I love those ‘lightbulb’ moments when you understand the world around you a little better! This is what convinced me to study science.
“My family didn’t particularly have a scientific background and so I didn’t understand the career opportunities it would open for me. It was a case of pursuing the subject I loved and this led me to a career at BP where I now work in a role which encompasses both chemistry and engineering.
“I was one of those that stumbled across engineering, but if we are to get more women into the sector it is important that we make young females aware of the huge variety and breadth of options available earlier in their education.”
The IPPR report also referred to the need to improve levels of ‘science capital’ in order to improve the poor understanding of engineering careers and the engineering pathway starting from school.
BP is investing in a range of activities and resources designed to inspire more girls and boys into science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. These include providing classroom resources, supporting awards and linking employees with their local schools.