Less than 30% of workers in manufacturing in Scotland are women and unions say ‘attrition rates’ among female graduates in science, technology mean loss of valuable skills to economy


The STUC annual women’s conference opens today with a call for unions to help end the dominance of male workers in manufacturing industry.

(Pictured: STUC women’s conference, 2011)

According to the STUC’s women’s committee, manufacturing provides more than 65% of Scottish exports and accounts for nearly all investment in research and development in Scotland.

However, it is estimated that that less than 30% of workers in manufacturing in Scotland are women and unions say ‘attrition rates’ among female students and graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics mean a loss of valuable skills to the economy.

A number of trade unions north of the border took part in a recent summit with the SNP government designed to raise the number of female workers in manufacturing and engineering.

Unite regional equalities organiser, Elaine Dougall is due to open the first debate at the conference.

She is expected to say: “Scotland’s manufacturing sector employs over 183,000 people, with only 52,000 of those being women.

“Women’s valuable skills are often lost to this part of the economy and we need to know why?

“If we want the Scottish economy to fulfil its potential, we need to challenge the male dominance in parts of these industries.

“By bringing women role models to the fore, but allowing school pupils to hear from engineers and other industries first hand, as well as visiting the sites where manufacturing and engineering goes on, this could, we hope, inspire a new generation to consider industries that they may well have ignored

“The STUC seeks a strong commitment from Scottish Government to take this forward and really invest in manufacturing in Scotland.”

At present only 10% of the UK’s engineers are women, which compares unfavourably with most of the rest of Europe, with Sweden at nearly 26%.

The conference is expected to hear later this morning from John Swinney, the SNP Finance Secretary.

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