How more women in Hull are getting jobs in engineering
From left, Kirsty Clode, WiME chairman; Julie Omond, production operative at Siemens Gamesa; Rachel Morton, service operative at Siemens Gamesa and Rebekah Shepherd, human resources manager at Siemens Gamesa
By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 20 Oct 2017
Some of the region’s largest manufacturing and engineering firms have boosted the numbers of female employees in their workforce, thanks to an initiative that encourages women to take up careers in these sectors.
Women into Manufacturing and Engineering (WiME), which celebrates its first anniversary this month, was created by Green Port Hull, supported by the Regional Growth Fund, in partnership with the JobCentre Plus, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Ltd and Airco Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ltd.
In just 12 months, ten women have been recruited through the scheme and WiME now has the support of 16 major employers from across the Humber region – a 433 per cent growth.
Roles have been taken up at some of Hull’s leading firms, including the Swift Group, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, Spencer Group and Airco Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ltd.
Kirsty Clode, chairman of WiME, said: “Although manufacturing, engineering and renewables in the Humber region are going from strength to strength, there is an ongoing issue of gender balance within these fields.
“When Siemens Gamesa was recruiting for its new wind turbine blade factory in Hull, the company attracted more than 20,000 applications, but only 7 per cent were from women.
“It reflects a perennial nationwide issue – just 9 per cent of the UK engineering workforce and 6 per cent of registered engineers and technicians are female.
“Green Port Hull consulted employers around the region, women currently working in engineering and other technical roles, and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) to address the issue.”
Rebekah Shepherd, human resources manager at Siemens Gamesa, said: “Siemens Gamesa is working hard to increase the number of women within our workforce in Hull, as part of our commitment to workplace diversity.
“We’re also committed to collaborating with partners to promote manufacturing and engineering as excellent career choices for women.”
The company collaborated with WiME in two careers events.
Paula Cullen, training and development manager at Airco Centre of Excellence, said: “The distance travelled over a year has been amazing for WiME.
“The initiative has brought success to Airco, as we now have three female engineer apprentices along with our first female electrical student.
“The commitment from employers is fantastic and I believe WiME will go from strength to strength with the potential for a national reach.”
Although based primarily in the Humber, WiME has received wider recognition on the northern and national stage.
The Green Port Hull team received Westminster recognition for their work from the Science and Technology Committee, and representatives took to the podium at the Northern Power Women Awards.
Julie Omond, 45, of Beverley, is a production operative at Siemens Gamesa.
She took up the role after attending a WiME event in March.
“I spoke to some of the girls working at Siemens Gamesa and heard straight from the horse’s mouth about what it’s like to work there,” she said.
“It inspired me to attend one of the company’s recruitment days and apply for roles.
“I was delighted when, in June, I was taken on as a production operative at the blade factory on Hull’s Alexandra Dock.”
Julie said: “No one in my team had made a turbine blade before.
“I’m proud to be inspiring other women to work in manufacturing and engineering.
“I have twin girls who are now 20, so I think it’s important to let women know that every career is open to them.”
Councillor Helena Spencer, portfolio holder with responsibility for equalities and diversity, said: “It’s promising to see that a year on from launching this initiative, ten women have already gained employment through this scheme.
“The WiME initiative is hugely important and it is vital the manufacturing and engineering sectors continue to actively support it by looking at how they encourage and support more women to work for their organisations.”