CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES has called for the Welsh Government to attract more women into engineering careers in North Wales.
The AM made the comments after an inspection report by education watchdog Estyn praised the engineering provision available in colleges and work-based learning providers in the region.
Among the providers held up as examples of best practice were Coleg Llandrillo, Deeside College, Coleg Menai and North Wales Training.
However the report highlighted that engineering was a heavily male-dominated industry with less than 20% of the workforce being female.
Enterprise and Business Committee Member KEN SKATES said:
“I’m delighted that colleges in North Wales have established such a good reputation for engineering and are being recognised for it.
“Institutions such as Coleg Llandrillo and Deeside College provide top-quality facilities for students to learn in and have forged important links with small and medium sized enterprises as well as big blue-chip companies.
“This is really positive because Wrexham and Flintshire is important centre of engineering and advanced manufacturing so it always needs a good supply of top-quality, qualified people to take-on.
“The report does throw up big challenges, however. We will need 12,000 new employees coming into Welsh engineering in the next few years, many of these in North Wales. We need to keep high the numbers of people coming into sectors like advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and composite material manufacturing.
“We also need to get more women into engineering careers. At the moment just 20% of the workforce is female which means we are potentially missing out on a huge untapped reservoir of talented female engineers.
“We need to get more women studying STEM subjects and ensure our early years curriculum is not putting young girls off a career in engineering.”
The engineering sector in Wales employs around 80,000 people working in around 5,000 different establishments and is mainly focused on the sectors of basic metals and aerospace.
Geographical centres of employment in the industry include those based in Flintshire, Neath Port Talbot, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend and Wrexham.