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Becoming the change we seek

  • Monday October 9, 2017

Diane Ware, IHE council member for equality issues, discusses the IHE’s continued efforts to boost diversity.

Before you think ‘equality and diversity – done that, been on the courses’, this is different. This is about inclusion, from the ‘technophobic old man’ to the ‘gadget-friendly youngster’.

The Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE), along with other institutes and businesses, has been involved in the government-funded Royal Academy of Engineering programme to increase diversity and inclusion across the engineering profession. We are all aware that we don’t have enough engineers for current and future projects.

A large majority of graduates who are interested in engineering don’t go on to work in the sector. The statistics show we lose around a third of all new engineers in their first year; most of these are women or black and ethnic minority. Where do the rest go? Why don’t they join us in this great career? And what happens to those women and minorities who do try to advance a career in engineering?

Think on, it starts with YOU.

Richard Hayes, CEO of the IHE, recently addressed a large number of delegates at a conference: ‘Put your hands up if would encourage your kids to pursue a career in highways or construction.’ Only about 5% of the audience did.

A large majority of graduates who are interested in engineering don’t go on to work in the sector. The statistics show we lose around a third of all new engineers in their first year.

The IHE is working on a strategic plan. I have been to the Royal Academy a few times to look at how we all can be inclusive and nurture diversity of all kinds and how we can inspire, attract, recruit and retain more women, ethnic minority, disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, older and young people from all socio-economic backgrounds into engineering employment and professional engineering institutions.

We need them and we need you to keep them on-board in this career. Many high profile companies have also been involved including Atkins, BAE Systems, Amey and Mott MacDonald. They are making headway in retaining their staff by changing the culture of their organisations. The case studies can be found on the raeng.org.uk website.

My job is to now help direct the IHE towards its goals and to provide guidance documents so that everyone can make a difference. Next year will be the year of engineering. The Government ‘wants to work with partners from throughout the industry, drawing on your expertise to inspire and motivate everyone from primary school to graduates, putting engineering centre stage’.

What are you going to do?

Join the Institute of Choice for Highway Engineers

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