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2 minute read

Female engineering academy students mark major milestone

Trainee female engineers at The Sheffield College are celebrating one year since they joined the newly-launched Liberty Steel Female Engineering Academy at the college’s Olive Grove campus.

Run in partnership with Liberty Speciality Steels, the women-only academy opened in September 2019 to address engineering skills shortages. During the last year, the academy’s first cohort has gained an insight into the engineering industry in a number of ways. Alongside completing a BTEC Extended Diploma in Engineering Level 3, which is equivalent to A Levels, students have completed site visits to major employers including Liberty Speciality Steels, based in Stocksbridge and Rotherham, as well as Mondelez Sheffield.

Furthermore, students have benefited from industry talks with employers, workshops and work experience and gained an insight into their potential next steps by attending careers talks with female engineers, including a former university placement student at Liberty and an employee at PCMS Engineering.

Trainee female engineers are celebrating one year since they joined the newly-launched Liberty Steel Female Engineering Academy at The Sheffield College / Picture: Getty/iStock


Nyachieng Jok John, aged 18, joined the academy last year and is planning to go to university to study aerospace engineering when she finishes her course. She said: “It’s been wonderful to be part of the first group. Being on a sponsored course is a blessing and I’m so thankful.”

Speaking about the units covered on the course, Nyachieng continued: “My favourite ones include mechanical principles, engineering materials and engineering design. We definitely need more women in engineering. Let’s not let fear, age, gender or anything else stop us from dreaming big and being the best we can.”

All students in the academy have been gifted Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) membership for the duration of their course, as an additional resource to support their studies. This includes access to IET learning centres around the country, resources online, careers advice and information on engineering pathways, access to industry experts, engineering newsletters and invitations to weekly webinars.

Anita Straffon, deputy chief executive, The Sheffield College, said: “It’s fantastic to see how the academy is raising awareness of the exciting careers offered within the engineering sector and inspiring more young women to go further. I’d like to congratulate our first cohort on their achievements, and thank Liberty Speciality Steels for working with us and ensuring our students’ success during an unprecedented academic year due to Covid-19.”

According to Engineering UK and Women in Engineering, there is an urgent need for more engineers to fill significant skills shortages and support economic growth. Women are under-represented. Nationally, around 12% of the engineering workforce is female, with the UK representing the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe.

Mick Hood, human resources director, Liberty Steel Group UK, added: “Engineering talent is key to the continued success of Liberty and the female academy is a great example of the company partnering with schools, colleges and universities to give opportunities to budding engineers.”

Olive Grove Campus specialises in engineering and has technical classrooms, workshops and equipment for electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, motor vehicle, plumbing, heating and ventilation. After completing the course at Olive Grove Campus, students can progress into employment or on to a university level course.

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