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  • by Karma Loveday

Water leads utilities on women in the workforce – but still has some way to go

The Energy and Utilities Skills Partnership reported progress but the need for much more action when it published a snapshot of diversity and inclusion data in the water, waste, gas and power sectors last week.


Among the trends in utilities documented for 2016-2019 were:

• the percentage of women in the utility sector fell 0.6% to 18.3% of the total workforce compared to 47.3% of women in the UK’s workforce as a whole with the water industry having the highest percentage of women in the utility workforce at 29.1% – a 10% rise over the period;

• the percentage of people from a black, Asian or other minority ethnic background in utilities climbed 2.2% to 6.9% with water up 2% to 6.5% – still some distance from the UK average of 11.4%;

• there was a 2.1% decrease in young workers (16-24) to 8.4% versus a UK average of 11.4%. Water outperformed the wider sector with 9.2%, up 2.4%;

• the percentage of people aged 60 and over increased in the sector to 8.9% – just behind the UK average of 10.4% – “a good sign of retaining talent” according to the Energy and Utilities Skills Partnership – but in water, he figure was just 4.3% – a fall of 3.5%;

• the percentage of people with a disability working in the sector increased 3.6% to 15.2%, reaching very close to the UK average of 15.7%. Water outperformed the UK average with 17.4%, up 5.3%.


The UK utilities sector employed 586,800 people in 2019, up from 520,100 in 2016. Water employed 64,700, up from 58,800. 21% of water vacancies are attributed to skills gaps.


Energy & Utility Skills chief executive, Phil Beach, said: “The energy and utilities sector is committed to action on diversity and inclusion, working together to share best practice and build on the great work already in progress. Energy and utilities companies are at the forefront of delivering the 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution to achieve net zero carbon targets in 2050. There is clearly more to do, and we are committed to attracting, recruiting, and developing a diverse workforce to fill the green jobs being created with truly inclusive teams.”

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