A survey by The Student Room revealed surprising attitudes towards apprenticeships.
An astounding 40% of students thought apprenticeships are taken up mostly by men, whilst only 1% of students felt like apprenticeships were designed for women.
These figures will definitely serve a blow to the government whose official stats suggest that there is no gender imbalance and that apprenticeships are popular among both men and women.
The Student Room, the largest student community website, asked students about their options after A Levels, which include pathways like apprenticeships, employment, university and gap years.
Only 11% of the 10,000 students who participated felt like they were completely informed about their options and this type of training, whilst 40% said they received very little or no information about taking an apprenticeship.
It was also important to understand what source of information had that biggest influence on students when it came to making their decision. Information on a website ranked the highest with 31% whilst one in five students cited their parents as the second biggest source of influence.
Zoe McMillan, community manager at The Student Room, said: “Apprenticeships are a highly credible pathway for both male and female students seeking knowledge, training, and on-the-job experience in their chosen career.
"It would be a huge shame if today’s students were missing out on potential career opportunities because of outdated misconceptions. I’d encourage everyone to fully investigate every option before committing to their chosen pathway after school.”
As a former student who was never informed about an apprenticeship in secondary school, I do agree with McMillan but at the same time I think we have to explore why students are still associating these outdated views with apprenticeships.
If we analyse these results from The Student Room, the survey suggests that girls are more susceptible to missing out on worthwhile opportunities because of their perception that apprenticeships are designed for men.
This could be because a lot of the opportunities are arising are in what is regarded as male dominated sectors like construction and engineering. However it is the responsibility of both the government when promoting this pathway and the sectors offering apprenticeships to ensure that females feel as though there is a place for them within these areas.
Slowly, other industries are opening their doors to offering apprenticeships such as IT and even the media. By promoting the fact that apprenticeships are widespread and not just isolated to certain industries we can only hope this goes a long way in showing students that these are recognised programmes and hold as much weight as university degrees. Proof of employment opportunities following an apprenticeship is something I think students need to see too. They need to feel that there is a definite payoff when it comes to taking an apprenticeship and seeing and hearing about apprentices going on to full time work helps to settle concerns they may have.
We have spoken about the importance of transparency before and with these results I can’t help but feel it’s time those at the top really buckle down and work on effective ways to translate this. It’s important to also engage parents and help them understand the possibilities an apprenticeship can bring their child.
Whether this is through job fairs held locally with employers present to talk about their apprenticeship scheme or whether it’s career advisors being properly tasked with speaking to students, approaches need to change – especially when it comes to careers advice. Giving students easier access to advisors to ask questions will not only help to equip them with the necessary up to date information they need but will improve their reliability and make them a go to source for advice.
We are fast approaching 2020 where the three million apprenticeship target will hopefully be achieved. However we have to question how many of them will entice female students and whether the discourse around these apprenticeships will change or will the efforts made to create these opportunities fall flat given that we’ve forgotten to tackle stigmas still attached?