VANCOUVER – Engineering and technology groups in B.C. are embarking on a new project to increase the number of women science and technology-related professions.
The Association of Consulting Engineering Companies BC (ACEC-BC), in partnership with the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC (ASTTBC) and Engineers and Geoscientists BC (EGBC), has announced the launch of the Advancing Women in Engineering and Technology Project – a two-year effort to increase the participation of women in the Engineering, Geoscience, Technology, and Technician occupations.
According to the groups, the average rate for newly registered female engineers in Canada is currently 17.4 per cent. It has not increased over the last three years. As of December 2017, B.C. ranked as having the third lowest participation rate in the country with 15.2 per cent, 2.2 per cent below the national average for newly licenced female engineers.
The project comes as the industry is on the cusp of surge in demand for science and technology workers. The B.C. Major Project Inventory lists construction projects in the province valued at $15 million or greater as requiring an expanding workforce of qualified engineers and applied science technologists and technicians including the LNG pipeline, Trans Mountain Pipeline, LRT (Skytrain) and other infrastructure projects across the province.
The Engineers, Geoscientists, Technologists, and Technicians Labour Market Information 2015 report outlines the critical skills shortages projected out to 2024, in 31 out of 45 technical occupations. The report found “looming market supply challenges with more than 31,000 job openings needing to be filled by 2024, and nearly 11,500 new jobs in 31 key occupations will be created”.
To fulfill the demand, associations and companies will attempt to draw in more participation from underrepresented groups
“The gap between supply and demand in BC’s workforce is a problem, and a key part of the solution is to increase the number of women and other under-represented groups in the applied science and engineering sector,” reads a press release from ACEC-BC.
Officials stated that the project aims to increase the participation of women in these careers by adopting diversity and inclusion strategies to recruit, retain, and support career development for women.
A provincial network of stakeholders will be assembled to implement diversity and inclusion strategies designed to spur a system level cultural shift of increased female representation within the applied science and engineering sector.
The project aims to specifically tailor efforts to different regions in the province. A broad range of engagement activities will be offered, including workshops, employer hosted lunch-and-learn sessions, webinars, virtual career fairs, networking and celebratory events, and development of other resources to support diversity and inclusive practices in the workplace.