Funding awarded to UWE Bristol to boost female participation in engineering and construction industries

Media Relations Team, 18 January 2024

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Female school student holds a drone she is building as her male teacher shows her something she needs to work on. A laptop and tools are on the table. Students are in the background working on projects.

UWE Bristol will increase numbers of women on engineering and construction degree apprenticeship courses to address industry underrepresentation, supported by funding from the Office for Students (OfS).

The University has been awarded £176,000 for six of its degree apprenticeship courses. The funded programmes include employer engagement and role model outreach work to increase female representation.

The OfS made the funding award as part of a £12 million investment to expand the number of Level 6 degree apprenticeship courses and places available at 51 English universities and colleges.

David Barrett, Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, said: “We are thrilled to have been successful in the first wave of the OfS funding competition. It is encouraging to see that the OfS recognise the ongoing importance of apprenticeships as part of the Higher Education landscape, and this investment to the sector is welcomed.

“Apprenticeships can play a key role in widening access and participation objectives for UWE Bristol, whilst also impacting the work of our employer partners across the region that will help us to develop new learning on diversifying apprenticeship recruitment good practice. We are excited to start working on this project and we look forward to seeing the differences it will make.”

UWE Bristol’s bid for OfS funding focussed on addressing the significant underrepresentation of women in the engineering and construction industries, to increase the overall number of starters on the Level 6 engineering and construction degree apprenticeships and help address the significant higher-level skills shortages in these sectors by widening the talent pool.

The University’s College of Arts, Technology and Environment (CATE) has an established apprenticeship provision, and the new activity will build on work and success already achieved. The University will work on an existing successful programme of STEM role-modelling outreach and information and guidance (such as the Women Like Me initiative), creating a tailored apprenticeship version. There will be a significant programme of employer engagement to better understand and influence employer gender diversity and skills recruitment plans.

Simon Flenley, Assistant Director of Apprenticeships at UWE Bristol, said: “This is a great opportunity for UWE Bristol to further build on our existing partnerships with employers, whilst opening possibilities for new collaborations. Employers are at the heart of apprenticeship success and we look forward to strengthening our offer as part of this project.”

John Blake, Director for Fair Access and Participation at the OfS, said: “Degree apprenticeships can provide a beneficial alternative route for students in higher education, which bridges the spaces between traditional study and the workplace. Our initial £12 million investment will support universities and colleges to accelerate their efforts to grow and develop these courses.”

The OfS funding will be invested in the following UWE Bristol degree apprenticeship programmes:

-Aerospace Engineer

-Manufacturing Engineer

-Civil Engineer

-Construction Site Manager

-Building Services Design Engineer

-Chartered Surveyor

To find out more about this initiative, please contact Jane Exon ( 

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