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What we think about women apprentices earning less than men

We are big advocates of apprenticeships here at Training and Courses – the chance to gain skills in the workplace, earn some money while studying and near enough guarantee yourself a job at the end.Sounds ideal for anyone, right?

Safeera Sarjoo
12th February 2016
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Yet we were shocked to hear the news this week about the gender pay gap affecting apprentices with women earning up to £2,000 less than men each year.

The Telegraph reported that a recent ComRes poll revealed that men were earning 21% more than women in the UK and that after completing an apprenticeship, 16% of women struggled to find employment as oppose to 6% of men. These results sadly show that apprentices aren’t immune from this societal trend of women earning less than men, and in addition to the pay gap, 7% of women reported they received no training compared to only 4% of men.

The study did suggest that the reason for this could be the areas men and women are taking apprenticeships in though. Administration, health care and retail, where women dominate, are regarded as low paying sectors compared to lucrative industries such as construction and engineering, which are typically typecasted towards men.

It begs the question, why are women not training for higher earning roles in the likes of construction and engineering? Speaking to the Telegraph, Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of the Young Women’s Trust said, ‘Women are funnelled very early into a narrow range of opportunities’, which she describes as ‘stereotypically gendered.’

How do we combat this?

The first issue that needs to be dealt with is the one of accessibility – in that many women feel that careers in these so-called ‘male’ industries aren’t even an option to them. This is something we certainly aim to change here at Training and Courses and will be providing more and more information on these subject areas for men and women alike.

The second is ensuring that employers and businesses are taking on the responsibility of ensuring that equality is prevalent throughout their organisations and the industries they represent. That means an equal workforce in terms of gender, equal opportunities and equal pay – not just for apprentices but for men and women throughout their careers. This is something slightly more difficult to address.

Labour’s recent reshuffle of its cabinet caused a massive ruckus with complaints that there were not enough women in more prominent positions such as shadow chancellor and shadow foreign secretary. If we can raise our voices and stomp our feet about the lack of women within prominent political roles, then why are we not doing the same for ordinary women, who have the ability to succeed in untraditional sectors?

Dr Easton continued, ‘It is staggering that in the 21st century certain employment sectors are hardly welcoming any young women; less than two per cent of construction apprentices are female and less than four per cent of engineering apprentices. And, according to the same official figures, even in IT and Telecoms the figure only rises to 12 per cent.’

As shocking as these findings are, we wouldn’t want this to deter any women from taking an apprenticeship. The government’s pledge to create three million apprenticeships before 2020 is certain to change things and provide many more opportunities for budding learners, regardless of their gender. Though the wider issue of the ‘glass ceiling’ for women is taking longer to be addressed, there’s no doubt that the future does look bright for anyone with the passion, talent and determination to work hard.  

Yes, attitudes need to change, but the truth is, apprenticeships have proven themselves to be fundamental in helping people achieve their dream jobs and, male or female, they can be a great way to start your career. Visit our apprenticeship page to find out more.

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