As the new academic term draws closer, a Teesside-based civil engineering firm is calling upon women in the region to help close the ever-growing skills shortage within the region's engineering sector.
With women only making up 11% of engineers in the UK and reports from the not-for-profit organisation Engineering UK showing that the engineering industry currently has an annual shortfall of at least 20,000, Seymour Civil Engineering is eager to encourage more women to consider a career in engineering.
Andrea Cartwright, Head of Training at Seymour Civil Engineering, said: "When it comes to the skills shortage within engineering, a lot of attention is focused on educating school leavers about the opportunities available within the sector. Yet we have a huge number of women in the region who are being overlooked as a potential answer to the skills crisis.
"The industries main concentration needs to be breaking down the stereotype of an engineer, changing the perception that a job in engineering means putting on PPE, heading out on a construction site and getting your hands dirty.
"There are so many opportunities within the sector that people just aren't aware of, largely because the multi disciplines of engineering aren't well promoted. Many women have no idea how and where their skills may fit, and are unaware of the training support available to get them in to a career in engineering."
Seymour is currently financially supporting 13% of its workforce within further or higher education, and has strong relationships with a number of colleges and universities across the North East.
Melanie Kent, a Quantity Surveyor from Seymour Civil Engineering who is currently studying for a degree in Quantity Surveying at Northumbria University, feels that more must be done to educate women on the opportunities available to them within the sector.
She said: "I would love to see an increase of women in the sector, but a huge challenge for the industry is trying to break the stereo type, alter perception and increase confidence of working within a male dominated environment. I spend a lot of my time working on sites across the North East and attitudes toward women onsite today have completely changed from 10 years ago.
"As an industry we've worked hard to change how engineering sees women, now it's time to change how women see engineering, by exposing them to the opportunities and informing them about the training available to get them there.
"Getting a degree was a lifelong goal but due to a range of circumstances it was something I had always had to defer. Starting a university course as a 26-year-old single mum, working full time, was a daunting prospect but thanks to the financial and professional support Seymour provided, I am in a position to thrive within my career."
In its 40th anniversary year Seymour's commitment to training and development has been formally recognised within the region. The company took home the Investment in Training award at the Hartlepool Business Awards and was given Highly Commended in the People and Development award at the Constructing Excellence Awards.
Pictured: Melanie Kent and Andrea Cartwright from Seymour civil Engineering