07 January 2014 | Focus Articles | thomas thomas
In a room full of engineering apprentices, Megan Lunn stands out. The 21-year old from Meltham is the only female in her teaching group and one of the few female engineering apprentices.
The classroom at Kirklees College is a vivid illustration of an issue Business Secretary Vince Cable said last month was an ‘enormous problem’. He was speaking after a Government report, Tomorrow’s Engineers, said that the UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, fewer than 10%.
Megan is one of those now trying to help boost that number. She is committed to a career in engineering after deciding while at Honley High School that an apprenticeship was the right way into the industry for her.
She spends one day a week in College and the rest of her time at Huddersfield’s Reliance Precision Engineering which she joined in 2011 after realising she wanted to work in a scientific industry but didn’t want to spend every day learning from textbooks.
Her Advanced Modern Apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering sees her receiving training on key manufacturing processes and industry essentials like health and safety as well as being an integral part of the Reliance team.
Megan says that mix of learning and working has been hugely important to her:
“The best thing about an apprenticeship is that you learn skills in a real engineering company where products are made for customers around the world and not just for training purposes. It gives you real-life experience that you could never get in the classroom.”
Reliance Precision, which has its headquarters in Lepton with bases around the world, is a specialist engineering company with over 50 years' experience. It launched its apprenticeship scheme in the 1960s and currently has 13 engineering apprentices working within the company.
The Tomorrow’s Engineers report found that pressure from parents, teachers and friends was one of the main reasons why many girls chose to go into arts subjects rather than science-based subjects like engineering.
“My route into an apprenticeship started at school where my teacher suggested it as a possible option and also thought that Reliance would be a good company to work with. At College I studied science subjects and then was lucky enough to be successful getting onto Reliance’s scheme backed by Kirklees College. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
“My family and friends, those on my course at Kirklees College and everyone at Reliance have been hugely supportive and, for me, often being the only female has not been a problem. I would encourage any girl interested in science and engineering to go for it and would love to see more and more female engineers coming into the industry in the future.
“I see myself working in engineering for the rest of my life and know that wouldn’t have been possible without the opportunity this apprenticeship has given me.”
Kirklees is one of eight apprenticeship hubs which have been set-up in the Leeds City Region. The aim is to help business thrive and grow through apprenticeships and, to achieve that, help and support for businesses is available through the Business Brokers scheme.
To find out more contact the Business Brokers team on 01484 437075 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org