BAE Systems, Delivering skills for the future

A 2010 education and skills report, ‘Ready To Go’, found that 45% of employers were having difficulty recruiting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skilled staff, while 59% of organisations expected difficulty in the next three years. The WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) organisation also noted that in engineering, the predominantly male workforce is aging. Many are over 50 years old and due to retire within ten years. In addition, nearly 100,000 female STEM graduates are either unemployed or economically inactive – a waste to the UK economy. Whilst the number of young women studying STEM subjects at GCSE level has steadily increased over the past years, there is evidence that from A-levels onwards this trend has, at best, flat-lined; at worst, it is in decline. BAE Systems is focused on attracting women into STEM related careers and addressing occupational segregation. With the sector facing a leaky pipeline of female talent, coupled with an aging male workforce, the organisation’s motivation for this business case is clear. BAE Systems believes that taking action in this area will enhance its talent pipeline, ensuring it has the right skills to remain competitive, innovative and is able to operate successfully in the future.

BAE Systems has developed a ‘Skills Strategy’ with three strategic priorities:

  • Workforce Skills Planning
  • Employability
  • Career Skills Development

The Skills Strategy is underpinned by leadership involvement, strategic partnerships and action. BAE Systems’ Executive Committee (EC) members have Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) objectives included as part of their top eight objectives, and each is responsible for cascading these down using the company’s annual review process. A dedicated EC sponsor actively promotes the Skills Strategy. BAE Systems has various Governance and Steering groups with specific remits, such as universities, education in general, graduates, apprentices and early career development. BAE Systems also works with a range of key stakeholders and competitors in the STEM field, including the Government, to develop UK education partnerships. The Skills Strategy’s third priority is to broaden the career aspirations of young women and through its ‘Early Careers’ activities, BAE Systems aims to widen access to and interest in careers in STEM subjects.

This commitment includes (but is not limited to):

  • 993 registered Science & Engineering Ambassadors (30% of which are female) supporting partner schools up to three days per person per year, utilising BAE System’s female apprentice and graduate role models as part of its school outreach programmes
  • A schools roadshow aimed at 9 to 13 year olds. This has already reached more than 150,000 young people and includes an exciting theatre performance and practical workshop, with a female lead role to challenge gender stereotypes about female careers in engineering
  • A dedicated website for young people, teachers, parents and employers offering a wealth of information on STEM careers
  • A work experience programme that is advertised online and provides placements for around 500 young people each year
  • A ‘Take Your Sons & Daughters To Work Day’ that has more than 300 children participating each year of which over 40% are female

In 2012:

  • 25% of the 500 young people who participated in the work experience programme were female
  • Over 25,000 school children took part in the 2012 schools roadshow, with half of them being female
  • 14% of BAE Systems’ engineering graduate recruits were female, with 23% of the overall graduate intake as female. This percentage bucks the national trend, which averages between 8% and 12% for the main engineering disciplines
  • 9% of engineering apprentice starters were female, compared to the national average of 5%
  • 11% of BAE System’s overall current UK apprentice population is female, and 95% of the overall apprentice intake is in engineering
  • Jenny Westworth, an ex-apprentice, won the Apprentice Champion of the Year Award in the National Apprenticeship Awards in 2012 in recognition of her work as a female apprentice role model
  • Charlotte Tingley won the Institute of Engineering Technology’s 2012 Women Engineering Society Prize

Source: Opportunity Now, Business in the Community

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