Construction services expert Carillion has announced a pledge to increase the number of women in apprenticeships fivefold over the next five years

Carillion has announced a pledge to increase the number of women in apprenticeships fivefold over the next five years, and to improve the retention of women engineers by launching a new network of support for women in operational roles requiring engineering skills.

  The initiative is being led by one of the few women in a director-level role in her industry, TPS Schal Director Joan Murray, who heads the company’s construction compliance, surveying and project management division.

Launching on 23rd June and entitled Project SNOWE (Support Network for Operational Women Engineers), TPS Schal will roll out the new support network across the business, engaging 20% of technical women in engineering in year one, increasing year on year over a five year period.  The commitment is to roll this initiative across the whole of the Carillion organisation over the next five years.

The announcement comes in support of the widely reported industry-led campaign launched by the Chancellor of the Exchequer earlier this month, to inspire and boost young people’s participation in science, technology, engineering and maths, the ‘STEM’ subjects.

At the launch of a new campaign called ‘Your Life’, the government welcomed over 170 leading businesses and institutions offering over 2,000 jobs and apprenticeships.

Joan Murray of TPS Schal is an ambassador for the STEM campaign. She attended the launch event on May 7th, with other representatives of TPS Schal and Carillion, Nikki Reeves and Claire Fugill.

Murray says: “Our aim with this new initiative is to take steps towards addressing some very serious issues. Our industries urgently need to widen the talent pool of future technologists and engineers and inspire more young women to take up the subjects that lead to these careers. The statistics for girls studying STEM subjects and going onto 3rd level to continue those subjects has not changed in 30 years.”

“This initiative is a fantastic step forward as it is only by working together; government, business and schools that we can truly make a step change in the perception and image of engineering and technology, she continues. “By doing so we will be substantially widening the talent pool available to future employers and so decreasing the skills shortage in the UK.”

The company has also given a commitment to increase its contact with schools in its local communities, with plans for Carillion to develop a tailor made ‘introduction’ to engineering and technology for girls. This module will be delivered to local schools where in the communities where they trade (four schools in year one, increasing year on year over a five year period).

Murray explains, “Across Carillion we engage with a number of local schools each year, right across the country. This takes a more general approach to construction, health & safety and sustainability, mainly aimed at primary schools. But our commitment going forward will also include an additional more focused campaign in secondary schools, encouraging girls to choose STEM subjects for A levels and so enabling them to go onto University and study engineering degrees. Girls are not being given the opportunity to study these subjects at school, as traditionally higher level maths and physics were the territory of boys, and also the image of careers in technology and engineering has not always been being female friendly.”

Murray continues: “By working together, along with other industries, organisations and government, we can open up opportunities to a whole sector of the population which may never have considered working in technology and engineering in the past.”

To help promote the campaign, Murray has made a video highlighting the Carillion TPS Schal pledge and discussing the issues faced by women in the industry. The video can be viewed here:

The Carillion TPS Schal team are continuing to promote the campaign, at events including the launch of SNOWE on the 23rd of June, and attending the London Women in Networking forum.