Jennifer Atkinson - OGTAP Apprentice

Jennifer is an OGTAP instrumentation and control maintenance apprentice. The 23-year-old from Orkney, Scotland, works with her sponsoring company Repsol Sinopec Resources UK Ltd as an instrument technician on the onshore terminal Flotta. Her role involves the maintenance of the equipment and instruments at the facility.

OPITO research shows that girls aren’t always actively encouraged by parents, teachers or peers to choose science and maths subjects or take part in extra-curricular activities like science fairs or engineering competitions in the same way boys often are.

OGTAP, which is managed by OPITO in partnership with the Engineering and Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), aims to bridge the skills and gender gaps affecting all levels of the industry.

When asked about being a female engineer, Jennifer said: “Some people are surprised when I tell them what I do and I believe that is because it’s still seen as a male career. However, what I have found surprising is how many people have said it’s a great thing to do as a woman and have said more should do it.

“I think there is still a lack of encouragement for girls to choose engineering subjects and interests from a young age. I did some research into women in engineering during my time at college and I think more has to be done to stop imposing gender divides at a young age - schools and further education establishments should do more to stop subjects being associated with gender.

“I would strongly encourage young girls to go for it! The UK has surprisingly low numbers of professional female engineers compared to other countries and they’re crying out for them. Most importantly, engineering is fun; you get to fix things and you can apply these skills to life outside work too.

“I’d also say that you don’t need to be interested in engineering from a young age to get into it as a career or onto an apprenticeship scheme - I worked as a relief social care assistant with the elderly and traveled before I settled into it.”

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