National College for High Speed Rail opens doors for more female engineers

School girls from across Sheffield and Birmingham tackled a series of challenges set by former ‘Young Engineer of the Year’ and BBC presenter, Steph McGovern, as part of a drive to encourage more females to pursue a career in engineering.

The event, held as part of celebrations marking the UK’s fourth annual Women in Engineering Day, was organised by the new National College for High Speed Rail which opens its doors in Doncaster and Birmingham in September.

The challenges saw the schoolgirls produce a new smart and high-tech, high-visual vest, designed to test their problem-solving and creative design abilities during interactive workshops, led by female engineering ambassadors.

The workshops were delivered by The National College for High Speed Rail in partnership with WorkWise, and Sheffield’s award-winning engineering and manufacturing business, Tinsley Bridge. 

The National College for High Speed Rail, the largest the largest of five new national colleges created by the Government to ensure British workers learn world-class skills, is looking to encourage more young women into the rail and engineering sector, as females currently account for just 9% of the UK’s engineering workforce.    

Steph McGovern, TV presenter and former Young Engineer for Britain, said: “What businesses need to thrive, is diversity. They need to have a mix of people working on their projects.  What we need is more females and a mix of diversity, a mix of ethnicity, mix of genders, sexuality. We’ve all got something to bring to the table in terms of what will make our rail network in the UK, the very best it can possibly be. 

“Success comes from diversity. The students at our recent women in engineering event have got skills that we vitally need for the industry to thrive. My advice to anyone who is in their teenage years is to go and do work experience and experience science and engineering because that will help to make you really credible.”

Clair Mowbray, chief executive of the National College for High Speed Rail, said: “As an employer-led college – we are working with industry to help play a major role in helping reduce the UK skills gap in engineering and produce a new generation of engineers equipped with the skills that businesses need. 

“This means looking at issues across the sector and one of the fundamental challenges we have, is encouraging more females to consider a career in the industry. Our message is clear – we have a cutting-edge new training facility to create the future generation of rail workers.  With Britain’s move into high speed rail and HS2 alone set to create 25,000 new jobs; careers in this industry are set to become more and more sought after. The National College for High Speed Rail is the gateway for young people to learn the skills they need to take up a once-in-a-generation opportunity to work on Europe’s largest and most exciting infrastructure project.

“We want more females involved to plug the existing skills gap and to forge a career for themselves in this highly exciting and growing new sector. 

Dr Lucy Bull, design & development engineer at Tinsley Bridge, said: “With females making up only a small quantity of the country’s engineering workforce, Tinsley Bridge are enthusiastic to support initiatives that attract young women to consider careers within our sector. This would also make a significant contribution to resolving the UK’s skills shortage of trained scientists and engineers.”