CPT joins SOE and BCoE to encourage women into engineering

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A ‘milestone’ partnership has been forged in time for this year’s International Women’s Day between the Society of Operations Engineers (SOE), the Bus Centre of Excellence (BCoE), and the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) to address the under-representation of women in engineering, starting with their collaboration on the IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge. The trio of partners aim to dismantle barriers and empower more women to embark on fulfilling careers within the transport sector.

Although there is a growing female presence, the partners say that within the engineering landscape, particularly within the bus and coach industry, it is still a largely male-dominated field. The collaboration aims to promote the need for a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the wider community, and by leveraging their individual expertise, the three organisations plan to extend their mentorship and career development programmes for aspiring female engineers (SOE), offer a hub for knowledge and best practices in bus operations, provides valuable insights into specific engineering roles and challenges within the sector (BCoE) and represent the interests of bus and coach operators, ensures the initiative aligns with industry needs and fosters real-world impact (CPT).

By elevating visibility of the competition through their networks, the trio are aiming to attract more female PSV apprentices, technicians and engineers to participate in this national IRTE Bus & Coach Skills Challenge, which is now entering its 12th year.

Previous winner and fourth-year Arriva mech-elec apprentice Hollie Smith share some advice for her female peers from the industry on why they should have a go at this year’s Skills Challenge: “Just do it,” she said. “I know it’s scary. This is still quite a male-dominated industry, but when I first started my apprenticeship three years ago, I didn’t see women anywhere.

“Over my course, I have seen more women coming into this industry and the company, and I think, all right, we are branching out, this is good. I want more girls to compete, because female winners are inspiring not just to women, but to everyone.”

“We are delighted to join forces with the BCoE and CPT in this transformative initiative. By working together, we can break down barriers and open doors for talented women who are eager to contribute their skills and ideas to the future of engineering,” said Emma Thompson, Head of Business Operations of the Society of Operations Engineers.

BCoE acting Head Sharon Kindleysides echoed the sentiment: “A diverse workforce is essential,” she said, “for innovation and progress. By supporting women in engineering, we can ensure the bus industry continues to thrive and meet the evolving needs of our communities.”

CPT’s CEO Graham Vidler emphasised the organisation’s commitment: “We are proud to participate in this collaborative effort to champion women in engineering. This initiative aligns perfectly with our vision of building a more diverse and inclusive industry that reflects the people we serve.”