THE Queen has lent her support to an initiative, partly based in Essex, to persuade more young women to take up engineering careers.

During the Second World War, the then Princess Elizabeth trained asamechanic and fitter as her contribution to the national war effort.

She has said that she “loved getting her hands dirty” while fitting engine parts and tyres to military vehicles and ambulances as a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

The Queen has expressed her backing for the drive to recruit more women engineers by inviting many women in the profession to a reception at Buckingham Palace.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said that the Queen “can see the vital importance of engineering to our future and is proactively encouraging young people to consider it as a choice.

“In part, this is born of personal experience. As a young woman serving with the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the Queen learnt vehicle maintenance skills that have stayed with her to this day. She got her hands dirty, enjoyed it, and would encourage young people today to have the same experience.

“At a time when there is a big industry push for more girls to become involved in engineering, the Queen would wholeheartedly support that initiative.”

Separately, Essex MPs have also backed the drive for more young people, particularly young women, to take up engineering training.

The Skills and Demand programme is a link-up between local businesses, Essex and Anglia Ruskin (Chelmsford) universities, and the Institution of Engineering Technology.

The initiative will see qualified female engineers acting as role models.

They will visit schools across the county to talk to pupils.

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, said: “As MPs we are ideally placed to help get more employers involved with the education system at a local level, so that we produce a talent pipeline of young engineers that can sustain a thriving UK economy.”

IET chief executive Nigel Fine said: “We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap.

“This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices in Essex.”

At present, only 15 per cent of engineering students in the county are female.