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This one day conference will celebrate females and apprentices who work in the Apprenticeship Sector, and will discuss and debate how to increase females who are disproportionately absent from careers in engineering, construction and transport.
The conference speakers are made up of strong, successful women who were or are apprentices, who recruit apprentices, or who support the apprenticeship movement and want to see more women succeed through an apprenticeship.
But what’s surprising is the split between apprenticeships applied for by women and those by men. New research from British Gas shows that over 70% of girls thought they were most suited to careers in beauty, childminding, nursing or education. While these careers are rewarding in their own right, a recent report in The Independent highlighted that putting more women in ‘male’ apprenticeships could bridge the gender pay gap.
Research has revealed that this could be down to the information provided by parents and teachers. When it comes to careers advice, 52% of girls say their parents don’t mind what they do (compared to 35% of boys), while half of girls (51%) surveyed said the career advice they got wasn’t that helpful compared to boys (39%).
It’s an issue that springs from the home too, with over a third of parents revealing that they offer differing career advice to their sons than to their daughters.
Could this mean that young women aren’t getting a balanced view from an early age? Or that the benefits of an apprenticeship are simply less well known?
There are 50 men for every woman starting a construction apprenticeship in England and 25 men for every woman embarking on an engineering course. A YouGov poll for Young Women’s Trust found that three in five employers think that positive action – steps like encouraging more women to apply and actively choosing women over men where they are equally qualified – is needed to achieve workplace gender equality but just a quarter have taken steps to improve women’s representation.
Women from a BAME background are significantly less likely to apply for an apprenticeship than those from a White background. This corresponds with the under-representation of women from a BAME background in the labour market, who in 2015 had an employment rate of 55.0 percent compared with a rate of 71.2% for women from a White background.
Although women are not generally under-represented in apprenticeships, the overall figures mask significant gender segregation within sectors.
Within engineering and manufacturing technologies (EMT), women account for just 6.7% (140) of successful applicants second only to ‘construction, planning and the built environment’, where women account for 3.8% (18) of successful applicants.
By contrast, women account for 89.6% (1,956) of successful applicants to ‘health, public services and care’, 72.7% (330) of successful applicants to ‘education and training’ and 66.1% (4,324) of successful applicants to ‘business, administration and law’, Over one half (53.1%) of all successful female applicants apply to the ‘business, administration and law’ sector, a further 24% to ‘health, public services and care’, and 11.7% to ‘retail and commercial enterprise’.
In total, these three sectors account for almost nine out of every ten (88.8%) successful female applicants.
This isn’t without its consequences. Because they are involved in typically lower-paying industries, female apprentices can receive an average 21% less per hour than their male counterparts in some roles. Meanwhile, 16% of young women reported being out of work after an apprenticeship, compared to just 6% of men.
By isolating female applicants, certain sectors are missing out on half of their potential talent pool. Over time, this has led to a skills gap in a number of key industries.