Sainsbury Management Fellowship calls for Ban on Hard Hats in Advertising

Published: 24 Sep 2013 By ICE Recruit

  Those who are already trained and now looking for chartered and civil engineering employment will remember what initially attracted them to an engineering career. Whether it was the technology, the challenge, or the chance to make an impact, something made engineering stand out as the right career for you. It probably wasn’t the hard hats, however.

When most people think of engineers, it’s probably safe to say that they picture the same thing. A smiling man on a building site, in a fluorescent jacket and a hard hat.

Regardless of the varied roles and specialisms in the field of engineering, engineers are always depicted the same way.

This is having a negative impact upon the way in which engineering is perceived by the outside world, according to Sainsbury Management Fellowship (SMF). The SMF is a charitable organisation that aims to support the development of engineers with the help of mentoring services and bursaries. Their objective is to get driven and focussed people to the level where they are ready for chartered and civil engineering employment.

Sainsbury Management Fellowship launches Hard Hat Index

The SMF is so concerned with the current clichéd state of engineering advertising that is has put together the Hard Hat Index. This tracked the frequency with which hard hats appeared in certain types of media over a period more than 12 months. It looked at both advertising and editorial content, in broadsheets and engineering media, and was complimented by focus group research with engineering graduates and a YouGov poll into public perceptions of engineers.

The findings seem to suggest that the SMF does have a point. Between April 2012 and April 2013, their studies found that just 16 engineering magazines featured 185 images of engineers in hard hats. The figures for national newspapers were even higher, where just 9 newspapers featured 940 images of engineers in hard hats.

Clichéd images could damage future chartered and civil engineering employment

Part of the SMF’s job is to consider the engineers of tomorrow. While supporting those currently looking for chartered and civil engineering employment, the Fellowship also needs to think about the industry going forwards. The SMF believe that recycling the same clichéd images of workers in hard hats has given the public a false perception of what a career in engineering is about.

The results of the YouGov poll support this; with above two thirds of the more than 2,000 people surveyed believing that engineers predominantly work on construction, building and industrial sites.

You can read the full press release from the Sainsbury Management Fellowship on clichéd images of engineers in advertising. It includes information gathered from their study of hard hat images, as well as findings from the YouGov poll.

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