First Bus reinforces commitment to diversity in engineering

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Danielle Curtis, an apprentice in mechanical and electrical engineering, took part in this year’s IRTE Skills Challenge. FIRST
First Bus says it has demonstrated its commitment to diversity in engineering and marked International Women in Engineering Day by pledging support for two inclusivity-focused initiatives: the EqualEngineers Pathway Programme and the EngineeringUK’s Tomorrow’s Engineers Code.
The EqualEngineers Pathways 12-month programme will provide students from diverse backgrounds with valuable support during their academic studies, including employability workshop sessions, a mentoring programme, and an online support programme. Similarly, the Tomorrow’s Engineers Code pledges to improve the accessibility and diversity of the engineering workforce in four key areas – funding, designing, delivering, and learning.

Both initiatives are designed to help students from under-represented groups tackle the additional challenges they face to secure employment opportunities in engineering. This includes women, who currently make up just 12.4% of all engineers in the UK. First Bus said its latest commitment aligns to the its wider inclusivity strategy which seeks to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, and celebrate women’s achievements.

Janette Bell, First Bus Managing Director, said: “Gender imbalance is a prominent issue in the engineering sector and whilst positive steps are being taken to address this, we recognise there is still much work to be done to break down stereotypes and improve opportunities.
“As a female MD in a predominantly male sector, I am committed to creating opportunities for women in the bus industry and passionate about ensuring that all my colleagues, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or any other characteristic, feel heard, valued, and included. Through supporting initiatives that open pathways for women and other under-represented groups, I believe we can help create a generation of engineers that reflects the diversity of the society we live in.”

First Bus highlighted that its commitment to equal and inclusive recruitment is not a new focus for the company, with apprenticeships being an integral part of the business for several years. The firm offers a range of apprenticeships, including mechanical and electrical engineering, to people from a range of backgrounds and ages.

Ian Warr, Director of Engineering at First Bus said: “We champion diversity at First Bus and our apprenticeships offer a critical avenue for talented and ambitious young people from all walks of life to launch a fantastic career in the bus and coach industry. It’s encouraging to see progress in the number of women in engineering roles, however, we still have more to do to ensure our programmes are as inclusive and appealing to women as they are to men.”

Recently, First Bus was announced as the sponsor of the Society of Engineers ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award, which seeks to champion talented rising stars from industry who are seen as ambassadors for the engineering profession. Additionally, two teams from First Bus took part in the IRTE Skills Challenge this month, an intensive test for mechanical and electrical technicians to compete against each other and demonstrate their skills and expertise.