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Ethnicity a barrier for engineering graduates

Headline stat: 84% of first year civil engineering degree students in 2012-13 were male

Black and minority ethnic engineering graduates are less likely to find full-time work compared to their white counterparts, according to a new study.

The figures from the Royal Academy of Engineering show that 71% of white engineering graduates find full-time jobs after six months compared with just 51% of black and minority ethnic (BME) students. Overall the report found that 81% of new graduates are in full-time work or further study six months after graduation.

The report, called Employment outcomes of engineering graduates: key factors and diversity characteristics, found that in general the sector provided positive employment opportunities, with 94% of all engineering graduates in full-time work or study after three-and-a-half years, 6% more than the average for all graduates. However, inequalities in opportunity relating to ethnicity remains a real concern.

“This report highlights the value of engineering skills to the economy with employment outcomes from engineering being very strong. In addition, the majority of engineering graduates wanted to continue in engineering careers following their studies, which is encouraging for the UK engineering profession,” said Royal Academy of Engineering director of engineering and education Rhys Morgan.

“However, despite the profession striving for a more diverse workforce, the impact of ethnicity on early employment outcomes for engineering graduates is concerning and we are beginning to investigate the causes of this.”

The academy is now piloting an engineering engagement programme to work with employers to address the inequalities. The programme includes events to connect employers with students and prepare students for applying for jobs in the sector.

“The report suggests that ethnicity is one of the most significant factors impacting the employment of engineering graduates,” said the academy’s head of diversity and inclusion Bola Fatimilehin.

“Engineering employers need to do more to encourage and engage with engineering students from all backgrounds, and across all types of universities. More also needs to be done to ensure that employment practices do not perpetuate environments where black or Asian engineering graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as their white counterparts of similar age and gender, and with similar study and attainment characteristics.”

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