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Developing skills for the future

In the UK, science, engineering, technology and built environment employers and organisations face alarming skills shortages at professional, technical and craft level. The WiSET team have a strong track record in helping employers tackle these shortages through a range of interventions including courses and activities for women and girls.

Developing skills for the futureThe team's experience has clearly demonstrated that there is a growing pool of untapped potential talent among women wishing to enter or return to careers in SET. Our short courses provide a focused opportunity for women to explore current issues and developments in their chosen field, while simultaneously building their self-confidence and developing supportive networks to aid their career paths.

Progression rates from these initiatives are encouraging, with over 60% of women entering or gaining promotion in a non-traditional role, or going on to further study. All our courses offer accreditation at level 4, first year undergraduate level, and for many women this is their first taste of higher education. Employers and students benefit alike, with the development of a workforce committed to continued learning in the workplace. Female lecturers and professionals in the field deliver the training and support these initiatives, acting as inspirational role models for the women hoping to follow on in their footsteps.

Examples of the team's work in this field include the Built Environment Returners course which has been very successful in helping women regain confidence and gain up-to-date knowledge and experience to aid their return to the workplace. Other courses include upskilling for female administrative and support staff working in built environment and engineering companies to enable them to work towards taking on professional / technical roles, and the Building for Success course which provides a taste of a full range of roles within the built environment.

Progression rates from these courses have been encouraging high, with 60% of students securing a job in a non-traditional role, gaining promotion or taking on higher level training as a result.

Case Study

 Return to STEM course participants: Nancy and Aisha

The WiSET team have a strong track record of providing courses and securing work experience placements for women wishing to return to careers in Science, Engineering, Technology and the Built Environment.  Our latest departure, 'Return to STEM', resulted in nine women from across the UK, representing a wide range of STEM disciplines, attending the University over a three month period with the joint aim of getting back to work in their chosen field. Both Nancy Cutinha and Aisha Tajudin (pictured) from the course are engineers, and they were lucky to be offered work experience placements with local Steel company, Firth Rixson. Nancy has now been offered a permanent role with the company using her background in Process and Chemical Engineering, and Aisha is using the technical and report writing skills gained through her placement to apply for jobs as a Power Systems Engineer. We intend to run similar courses in the future, and welcome enquiries. To find out more about Nancy and Aisha's experiences, visit the HerStory section of the website. 


Sustained work with a range of local and national employers has enabled the team to develop a portfolio of work experience opportunities for women returning to or hoping to embark on a non-traditional career. Employers increasingly recognise the value of recruiting women to their workforce and have been responsive to the team's offers of support to develop and sustain good working practices. Shadowing opportunities can often provide the necessary springboard to enable a woman to find new directions and progress in her chosen career.

Case Study

One example of our innovative delivery is a new course designed to provide an insight into sustainable community development. Women attending the seven week long Building Sustainable Communities course conduct a ‘place check’ or community audit, visit a number of housing and environmental projects, and come up with their own regeneration plan. They also build a portfolio to demonstrate their learning and progression throughout the course. This experience acts as a bridge for women who might not otherwise consider progression to Higher Education, and helps the women to recognise and build on their existing skills.

Recognising success

Women on our courses and those who benefit from our support have been recognised locally and nationally and employers are keen to share in this success. Pictured right, with Tom Levitt MP is the National ESF Learning Works Award winner, Sharon Brennan, a trainee building surveyor with Kier. Sharon completed our Moving Back the Walls course and progressed to the HNC in Building Studies at the University. Sharon's experience acts as an inspiration to others following in her footsteps.