Case study: Beverley Parrish, WSP: �A career in engineering can be glamorous!�

This week is ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’; a week of activity designed to showcase the exciting career opportunities in the engineering sector as well as the innovative businesses that rely on the work of creative engineers.

The opportunities for engineers in Leeds City Region are vast; with the largest manufacturing base in the UK and strengths in construction and low carbon technologies, there is a range of exciting career opportunities on offer. Yet, we are still seeing demand for employees in this area far outweigh the supply. Why is a sector with so much opportunity having difficulties attracting young talent?

Beverley Parrish, Director of Waste at WSP, thinks this is due to the negative perception of the industry:

“We frequently see engineering coming in as the ‘most boring’ or ‘least liked’ career choices in surveys with young people, particularly females – but my experience of working in the industry has been anything but boring! We need to challenge these perceptions and encourage more young people to explore the exciting career opportunities that are available in engineering.”

Bev’s career in the industry started after a haphazard careers meeting with a teacher when she was in sixth form.

“I come from a working class background where going to University wasn’t even mentioned - I went to the obligatory 10 minute careers discussion with my teacher with no idea about what I wanted to do. She asked me what I liked and I said ‘geography’. She pulled out a book about jobs and searched for ‘geo’ and after we’d ruled out geography teacher as a career she stumbled across ‘geologist’. When she said a career as a geologist would mean travelling the world, I was sold – I remember thinking ‘that’s what I’m going to be’."

Despite Bev’s mother’s surprise, Bev pursued a career as a geologist and she has never looked back.

“I’ve worked all over the world; from oil rigs in the North Sea to gold mines in Africa - I’ve had the most exciting and adventurous career. It hasn’t all been easy and I’ve had to do some hard, physical jobs but these have all been stepping stones to where I am today – the opportunities in the sector are immense.”

Today, Bev works for WSP, one of the world’s fastest-growing design, engineering and management consultancies, specialising in projects for the property, transport and environment sectors. WSP deliver services in 35 countries and have delivered iconic projects such as The Shard, London and Zayed Museum, Abu Dhabi.

“Director of Waste doesn’t sound like the most glamorous of job titles but I get to do some really exciting things in my role! This year alone, I’ve travelled to Milan, Poland and Brussels.”

In and amongst her day job, Bev is also finds time to sit on the Leeds City Region LEP Employment and Skills Panel and is Chair of the LEP Careers Task Group. The Careers Task Group recently oversaw the launch of a series of resources to provide the latest intelligence on key job sectors.

“Using the latest labour market research, we have created a host of resources with the aim of helping jobseekers and those providing careers advice to make better informed choices about future employment opportunities. Engineering is a key employment sector in Leeds City Region and engineers working here can have exciting careers, working for innovative, forward-thinking businesses. We must challenge negative perceptions of the industry and help to nurture tomorrow’s engineers. We hope that our resources will help to do that.”

To view the Leeds City Region careers resources please go to: