Apprenticeships seem to be the perfect route for those that want to merge earning and learning. But are they an enticing route for everyone? There are some promising statistics for women in apprenticeships, which have been steadily developing over the past few years. However, there are still some worrying underlying patterns in specific sectors.
Read on as we discuss the rise of women in apprenticeships – and how to make sure it continues across the board.
Crunching the numbers
It’s easy to look at overall apprenticeship numbers and see a good outlook overall. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy has caused some unease in the L&D sector, but we are seeing a rising number of young people accessing higher level apprenticeships, and better quality programmes being delivered. It can’t be all bad.
In 2016/17, women represented 54% of apprenticeship starts in England. This figure has been around the same since 2010/11. But it simply doesn’t paint the whole picture. There’s still a clear barrier for women in certain sectors. According to the Young Women’s Trust, there are 25 men for every female apprentice in engineering and 74 men for every female apprentice in plumbing. More broadly, less than 1 in 10 of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) apprentices are women.
The picture is much the same for logistics, with 3.9% female participation in Driving Goods Vehicles apprenticeships and just 10.3% of Warehousing and Storage apprenticeships made up by females.
Behind the numbers
These patterns in apprenticeship uptake run deeper than choice alone. Research by British Gas shows that 70% of women feel more suited to apprenticeships in Beauty, Childcare, Nursing and Education. Prudential findings back this up, showing that female students think most long-term opportunities are in nursing, healthcare and childcare.
And their parents seem to agree, with a third of adults with children considering apprenticeships seeing them as more suitable for boys compared to just an 12% for girls. As a result, more parents encourage their sons to pursue an apprenticeship than their daughters.
Problems with ‘male’ industries
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.
But there’s also a massive consequence for the economy and employers themselves. 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, including logistics and engineering.
Changing the status quo in Logistics
The logistics industry is a case in point. It’s growing quicker than recruitment can keep up with but has limited interest from young people looking for their future career. Meanwhile, the demand for goods to be delivered quickly and cost-effectively means the industry is constantly adapting and reviewing its infrastructure. The solution? Could women come to the rescue?
While the myth of male and female jobs is something that needs to be dismissed from an early age, there is also plenty to be done in the short term. It’s time for employers to take positive action where they can. To deal with both the gender imbalance and, in turn, the skills gap, they need to make inroads to drastically increase the numbers of young women in male-dominated sectors.
Over the years programmes have been developed to introduce a number of professions and industries to young people, and are looking to entice children in from primary school age. These programmes enable businesses to partner with local schools and colleges to deliver workshops informing students and opening up to the opportunities available in their sector. Could more young women be enticed at an early age to consider alternative pathways into these careers?
Logistics apprenticeships for women
Apprenticeship level training can benefit both employers and the people who undertake it. It has become an even more attractive proposition with Apprenticeship Levy funding, through which employers can focus on their staff and can scale up the provision of apprenticeship level training using the contributions they are already making.
And this isn’t necessarily restricted to school leavers. Many businesses are offering apprenticeship level training to existing employees. With that, apprenticeships open a new route for women already in the business who want to retrain, or that the business wants to further develop.
So, as well as bringing more talented women into their organisations through apprenticeships, employers can use their funds to upskill existing staff members and ensure women are better represented in senior management in the future.
Bis Henderson Academy
At Bis Henderson Academy, our team has seen superb interest in development programmes from females across the board. From shop floor to management, we’re seeing more women applying for and succeeding in our training programmes thanks to great support from their employers. If you want to talk more about how you can get involved, our team are always on hand. Get in touch today for more information.
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