Diamond company De Beers said yesterday it had launched a three-year partnership with Women in Engineering (WomEng), consumer goods company Unilever and professional services firm EY to develop the next generation of highly skilled female engineers.
De Beers is investing $315000 (R4.46 million) over three years in programmes that encourage young women to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and pursue engineering careers in South Africa, Namibia and Botswana, spokesperson Jackie Mapiloko said.
She said the programme was designed to strengthen the students’ employability and leadership skills and cultivate innovative entrepreneurial thinking through the WomEng Innovation Challenge, in which they would develop an engineering business solution to meet the UN’s sustainable development goals.
With a global shortage of engineers and women representing only 11 percent of the engineering workforce, attracting more young women into the sector is vital, De Beers senior vice-president for social impact Katie Fergusson said. “In our fast-changing world, we need diversity of thought to find new solutions, so we are therefore thrilled to be able to partner with WomEng and play a role in supporting the next generation of talented engineers who will play a critical role in shaping the future,” she said.
De Beers hosted 60 female pre-and-post graduate engineering students from South Africa, Botswana and Namibia at its Johannesburg head office last Thursday to learn more about the company and the diamond value chain. Managing director of De Beers group managed operations Mpumi Zikalala took the aspiring engineers through her own journey in the mining industry.