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Contractors pledge support for STEM campaign

Major contractors have pledged their support to a campaign to boost the participation of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and maths.

According to Construction News, Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Laing O’Rourke, Mace and Skanska are among the firms involved in the Your Life campaign, launched by the chancellor George Osborne this morning.

More than 170 businesses and institutions have pledged to do more to highlight the career opportunities open to those studying STEM subjects, with a special focus on attracting girls and women to science, technology and engineering careers.

Laing O’Rourke has committed to offering 30 per cent of its apprenticeships and 40 per cent of its undergraduate sponsorship opportunities to women by 2016.

It will also provide 1,000 volunteer days over the next 12 months to support outreach programmes with partners such as Stemnet and the Royal Institute of Engineers.

Laing O’Rourke chief executive Anna Stewart said: “Opportunities abound in engineering and construction for women with the intellect and ambition to fulfil their potential and help drive our industry forward.  The engineering and technology sectors need to be bold and innovative in attracting new talent from all walks of life. 

“That’s why I firmly believe that positively promoting workforce diversity through programmes like Your Life will have a transformational effect on the way we respond to the challenges of a post-recession world, driving greater adoption of new technologies and ways of working.”

According to the campaign, although around 150,000 girls and boys take Physics GCSE, by A Level it has dropped to just 25,000 boys and 7,000 girls; meanwhile only 20 per cent of students in England study maths to age 18.

The Institution of Civil Engineers has pledged its support to the campaign to address the imbalance of male and female engineers.

ICE director general Nick Baveystock said: “The reality is that we struggle to attract women into the profession, and to retain them, and I believe this erodes our ability to offer creative civil engineering solutions to societal needs. 

“There is a commercial as well as social imperative to right the imbalance and efforts must be ramped up – the “Your Life” Call to Action launched today is a positive step and the campaign has our full support.”

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Mr Osborne said: “Backing growth in sectors such as science, tech and engineering are part of our long term plan to deliver economic security and sustainable growth for a more resilient economy.

“This campaign, which brings together some of Britain’s best businesses, institutions and government, will help inspire young people into jobs in these exciting sectors that are essential to our economic prosperity.”

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