Airbus is making “real strides” to improve diversity within its business, said Oriel Petry, the company’s senior vice-president head of public affairs UK.

Petry said the number of women apprentices had jumped from 3% to 20% for the most recent intake, but more needed to be done.

Improving diversity

“This is a tricky, tricky subject and it doesn’t start just with businesses, because to get the best people to engineer the most brilliant wings as we need to for Airbus, you need to have kids who are going through schooling to get the best skills,” she told FINN.

“It starts really, really young. And it has to be a combined effort between schools and between businesses. Airbus is trying really hard to increase the diversity, not just gender but diversity in general.

“We’ve seen some real strides that we’ve made actually, particularly around changing the way in which we advertise for jobs. Now our apprentices that come in, rather than just having 3% women, this last intake was 20%, which is quite a big jump.”

Encouraging girls into STEM

Petry said it was for schools to help drive this change, including by encouraging more girls to pursue science qualifications.

“That has to be driven by working closely with schools. Schools don’t always invite as many girls as we’d like into the room when we come and talk to them about a career in aviation.

“It has to come at a really young age, it has to be all the way through and unfortunately, for reasons that remain a bit vague, girls in school still are turned off by the sciences and feel that they can’t do it. Whereas boys naturally are drawn to it.

“This is a really, really tricky problem and it’s a long term problem, but of course, as businesses what we need to do is to kind of say how can we encourage women and people from different backgrounds to think about aviation as a career.”
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