The UK engineering sector needs to address obstacles that prevent people from ethnic minorities from entering the profession, the Royal Academy of Engineering has said.
While achieving a better gender ratio is already on top of recruitment agenda of many engineering companies, little is being done to improve the representation of ethnic minorities.
The Royal Academy of Engineering found that while people from ethnic minorities make up 25 per cent of the UK's primary school children and 25 per cent of engineering graduates, there are only 6 per cent of them in the engineering workforce and 12 per cent among the overall working population.
“Diversity work by engineering companies is having a positive impact, but there is still some way to go in developing truly inclusive workplaces,” said Allan Cook CBE FREng, chair of the Academy’s Diversity Leadership Group.
“It is encouraging to see work being done to address barriers faced by lesbian and gay people, and it would be good to see more in relation to ethnic minorities. We also need to become smarter at recruiting and retaining disabled people, and people from any background with the prerequisite skills.”
Of the companies surveyed, 96 per cent anticipate difficulty in recruiting in the future and would like to broaden their recruitment pool. 83 per cent named diversity as critical to enhancing their capacity for innovation and creativity and 76 per cent see it as crucial to tackling the skills shortage.
“Creating inclusive cultures across engineering companies is critical not only to engaging, attracting and retaining engineers of all ages, but also in driving innovation and creativity,” said Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, who led the studies.
“Time and time again, it has been proven that greater diversity leads to increased innovation and creativity, and there is also a strong correlation with financial performance,” he added.
The academy has prepared a case study toolkit providing ideas for engineering companies on how to enhance diversity in the workplace.