Engineering should not be a no-go area for women

AT SCOTTISH Gas, our apprentices are vital to the future success of our business. That’s why we’re recognising their talent during Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

Scottish Gas provides energy to around 1.5 million Scottish residents. Picture: John Devlin

Each day, more than 900 Scottish Gas engineers help around 1.5 million customers across Scotland to stay safe and warm in their homes. We recognise the need to build a strong, skilled and diverse workforce to support those customers.

This year we’re investing around £30,000 in each of our apprentices and even more in our wider training provision. Over the past five years, more than 500 apprentices have qualified as engineers at our highly-regarded training academy in Hamilton.

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The fifth annual Scottish Apprenticeship Week gives us a chance to contribute to the debate about the future of apprenticeships. We also want to highlight the need for greater gender diversity, particularly within the engineering sector. We’re addressing this issue within our HomeCare Services operations. When recruiting for apprentices, we attract an average of 30 applications for each position – last year in Scotland, only 3.3 per cent of applications came from women.

Encouraging more women to join our team of 10,000 engineers will make us a stronger business. Greater diversity means we can better reflect and support our four million HomeCare contract customers, as well as the communities we work in.

We recognise the contribution a diverse workforce brings to all areas of our business, not just amongst our engineers.

We want to break down any barriers and get women thinking about apprenticeships. At Scottish Gas, we’re challenging the notion that particular careers might not be “traditional” or “appropriate” for women in today’s Scotland. That’s why we’re sponsoring the conference The Apprentice: Building a strong, skilled and diverse workforce for Scotland during Scottish Apprenticeship Week (18-24 May).

As a former Scottish Gas trainee, I can’t wait to take part in the debate on the future of apprenticeships in Scotland, and to encourage as many young women as possible to consider a career in engineering.

• John Lochrie is operations director, HomeCare Services, British Gas. The conference is on Tuesday 19 May