31 May 2013
Better employment policies and practices will help boost the number of women scientists, engineers and technicians (SET) re-join the workforce after career breaks according to industry experts.
This finding became clear during an Engineering Policy Group Scotland (EPGS) ‘Holyrood Briefing’ at the Scottish Parliament this week (29 May). The event was chaired by Maureen Watt MSP, Convener of the Parliament’s Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee.
“There is expected to be a shortfall in experienced scientists, engineers and technicians in Scotland and this could be improved with appropriate employment policies and practices to make it possible for women with these qualifications and skills to re-join the workforce after a few years career break for family commitments”, said Derek Elder from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
Linda Somerville, Manager of the Scottish Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology gave the keynote address. This outlined Scotland’s leadership in recognising and addressing the challenges faced by SET qualified and experienced women with re-joining the workforce when they had a few years career break for (typically) family reasons.
Scottish academia has been very proactive in this regard and there were signs that pockets of Scottish industry were waking-up to the need for organisations to have and operate flexible working, and recruitment policies, which made it possible for women to get back into the workforce at appropriate levels of seniority.
During the extended question and answer session Dave Wilson from Selex Electronic Systems in Edinburgh, referred to the positive policies and practices his company had towards ensuring equal opportunities for women so they could get the right family: work balance; and to enthuse young people about science, engineering and mathematics. His company recognised both these matters as being important for its future.
The Q&A panel included Clare Adamson MSP, Liam McArthur MSP and Mary Fee MSP all of whom set-out the consideration of this important topic that went into their committee work to guide the Scottish Government’s economic policies. In particular they identified with the need to ensure that child care policies and costs made it economically viable for women to return to work.
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