Run in partnership with Liberty Speciality Steels, the trailblazing academy opened last September to address engineering skills shortages.

Students have developed the knowledge and skills to succeed in the engineering sector, with a focus on electrical technology and electronics.

Nyachieng Jok John, aged 18, joined the academy last year and is planning to go to university to study aerospace engineering when she finishes her course.

She said: “It’s been wonderful to be part of the first group. Being on a sponsored course is a blessing and I’m so thankful. Also, it’s been great making new friends, in spite of our differences.”

She added: “I’ve enjoyed some of the trips and units. My favourite ones include mechanical principles, engineering materials and engineering design. We definitely need more women in engineering. Let’s not let fear, age, gender or anything else stop us from dreaming big and being the best we can be. We can do it!”

During the last year, the academy’s first cohort has gained an insight into the engineering industry in a range of different ways.

Alongside completing a BTEC Extended Diploma in Engineering Level 3, which is equivalent to A Levels, students benefit from industry talks from employers, workshops and work experience. The course has had a high attendance rate at 93%.

Students have completed site visits to major employers including Liberty Speciality Steels, based in Stocksbridge and Rotherham, as well as Mondelez Sheffield.

They’ve gained an insight into their potential next steps by attending careers talks with female engineers, including a former university placement student at Liberty and an employee at PCMS Engineering.

Students also attended the Wentworth Construction Fair, which showcases the different specialisms within the sector, careers and the chance to meet women working within engineering.

All students in the academy have been gifted Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) membership for the duration of their course, as an additional resource to support their studies.

This includes access to IET learning centres around the country, resources online, careers advice and information on engineering pathways, access to industry experts around the country, engineering newsletters and invitations to weekly webinars.

Anita Straffon, deputy chief executive, The Sheffield College, said: “It’s fantastic to see how the academy is raising awareness of the exciting careers offered within the engineering sector and inspiring more young women to go further.”

She added: “I’d like to congratulate our first cohort on their achievements and thank Liberty Speciality Steels for working with us and ensuring our students’ success during an unprecedented academic year due to Covid-19.”

Mick Hood, Human Resources Director, Liberty Steel Group UK, added: “Engineering talent is key to the continued success of Liberty and the female academy is a great example of the company partnering with schools, colleges and universities to give opportunities to budding engineers.”

According to Engineering UK and Women in Engineering, there is an urgent need for more engineers to fill significant skills shortages and support economic growth. Women are under-represented. Nationally, around 12% of the engineering workforce is female. The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineers in Europe.