Employers urged to recruit more young women

 

Employers have been called upon to recruit more young women, as male apprentices look set to outnumber their female counterparts for the first time in nearly a decade.

Research by charity the Young Women’s Trust showed young women are often shut out of male-dominated sectors like construction and engineering due to gender stereotypes. It pointed out that young women who have gone into male-dominated industries have reported a lack of support and even outright gender discrimination.

The Trust also highlighted how women tend to enter lower-paid sectors, such as care and beauty, contributing to an apprentice gender pay gap of 21% – or £2,000 a year. It added that they are less likely to receive training during their apprenticeship and less likely to get a job after.

The Young Women’s Trust has published a report which features tips to help employers and the government make apprenticeships more accessible. It recommends:

  • Increasing apprentice pay. The apprentice minimum wage - £3.40 an hour – prevents many young women from being able to finance their training. Increasing the basic wage and offering support for essentials like childcare and transport would make apprentice schemes more accessible
  • Using language that appeals to young women when advertising roles and include pictures of women. Words like ‘support’, ‘understand’ and ‘interpersonal’ have been shown to appeal to women in job adverts, while ‘leader’, ‘competitive’ and ‘dominant’ deter them
  • Removing academic entry requirements where they are not essential to the role. There is no evidence this leads to a reduction in the quality of recruits
  • Offering more part-time and flexible apprenticeships. This would help women, particularly those with caring responsibilities, to balance their time commitments
  • Involving apprentices in shaping organisational policy. Employers should listen to the views and concerns of young women apprentices in order to meet their needs
  • Providing women-only work experience and open days to expose women to a range of roles in different sectors
  • Promoting women role models who have completed apprenticeships
  • Providing mentoring and women’s networks to support young women apprentices. Being the only woman, or one of a small handful, in the workplace can be daunting. Young women have asked for more support during their training
  • Engaging with schools and parents to improve their knowledge of apprenticeships and help them to better advise young people
  • Collecting data relating to the gender, age, ethnicity and career progression of apprentices to help identify challenges that prevent companies making the most of women’s talent

Dr Carole Easton OBE, chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust, said: “The growing skills shortage in sectors like construction and engineering is all the more reason to support more young women into relevant apprenticeships. But Young Women’s Trust has found that young women across the country are shut out of these sectors. It is shocking that last year, in London, there were no higher level women apprentices in either construction or engineering.

“Supporting young women into these apprenticeships benefits women, benefits businesses and benefits the economy. We need urgent action.

“We would like to see clear pathways made available to young women with low or no qualifications, so they can start apprenticeships and progress to the higher levels. Much greater provision of part-time and flexible apprenticeships would also help young mothers and carers in particular, who often have to balance care with work.”

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

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