The Race Equality Award: Royal Academy of Engineering

The Royal Academy of Engineering is increasing the number of engineering graduates that are ethnic minority, female, or from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and helping them into work.

Winner of Business in the Community’s Race Equality Award 2019.

Royal Academy of Engineering: Addressing jobs gap by linking more ethnic minorities with roles in sector 

  • 655 students and graduates took part in 2018-19 
  • 91 per cent from ethnic minority backgrounds 
  • Annual shortfall of 59,000 engineering graduates to fill roles 

As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, the Royal Academy of Engineering has an important job. Its fellows continue to promote excellence in engineering. 

The organisation launched its Graduate Engineering Engagement Programme (GEEP) as part of this effort. It is designed to increase the number of engineering graduates that are ethnic minority, female, or from socially disadvantaged backgrounds – and help them into work.   

“We’re helping to ensure that engineering recruitment is inclusive and based on merit, as well as making an important contribution to addressing the persistent engineering skills gap and creating working cultures that support diversity, innovation and creativity.”  

Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering

Supporting this demographic is important, not least because there is an annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineering graduates and technicians to fill core engineering roles, according to Engineering UK estimates1

GEEP has some clear targets: to make sure the engineering graduate population is made up of at least 30% female, 60% ethnic minority, and 80% from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (for example, those that received free school meals). 

The programme brings engineering employers and graduates and undergraduates together with the specific aim of encouraging applications for graduate/internship recruitment opportunities. The young people are offered a two-day programme of training on employability skills and there is a mentoring option to help students who secure internships translate them into something more long term. 

During the three-year pilot, 468 students and recent graduates took part, rising to 655 in the first post-pilot year 2018-19. On average, 30% of participants were female, 91% from ethnic minority backgrounds, and 76% from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Unless otherwise stated, the information in this impact story has been supplied by Royal Academy of Engineering.

What the judges said…

“The Royal Academy of Engineering were an inspiring example of an organisation seeking to change perceptions in a sector that has often been lagging behind in terms of diversity. The panel was impressed by the forensic approach from beginning with a very refined examination of the data to crafting an intervention that would practically work for the sector. In addressing social mobility as well as race equality, the programme demonstrated a wider impact both within the sector and wider society.“

Dr Omar Khan, Director, Runnymede Trust


  1. Engineering UK 2018: Synopsis and recommendations: Available at

Business in the Community is creating a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow

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