Apprenticeship Campaign: Young Women Taking Action

Friday 4 September 2015

working groupYWT’s apprenticeship campaign is now in full swing and I’m so excited to be a part of it! The powers that be will know that apprenticeships aren’t working for young women, and you can bet we’ve got some great ideas around improving this.

Myself and some lovely ladies from YWT received some world class training from Ian at the Directory of Social Change last week in Brum, I can’t wait to put our plans into action, meet with some policy makers, perhaps make a placard, and get out there making our voices heard. Another highlight from our day out was gaining some top tips from Jess Phillips (Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley) who has a wealth of experience campaigning around social issues affecting women. Thank you to everybody involved, we will only succeed as a team.

My own experience around apprenticeships was relatively short lived; back in the EMA days I was enrolled on a business admin apprenticeship that I didn’t complete because at 16 I didn’t want to work full time for £30 a week. Around that time, there wasn’t much choice for women, if you didn’t want to do admin you could have picked between the other “girl” professions, perhaps hairdressing or childcare? If that wasn’t for you then forget it! When researching apprenticeships in my local area recently I was happy to see that options have opened up a little, there are far more apprenticeships available now than there was when I left school in 2009 and in a marginally wider industry range.

Later on in my working life, when in paid employment with a supermarket chain, I was given the opportunity to study an in-house apprenticeship, and this time I completed it and gained a qualification whilst earning a proportionate wage for the hours I was putting in. Apprenticeship wage is a serious barrier for young people, whilst EMA has been abolished and most apprenticeships pay around £100 a week, it is still an unfair wage for a person (I believe age is irrelevant) who is working full time, and often performing the same duties as another person who is being paid a “proper” wage, especially when you take into account that for industries such as administration, you don’t actually need any formal qualifications at all. Starting your career at a lower wage and working your way up to a pay rise is fair; working for a pittance is not!

I’m so looking forward to hearing other young women’s stories and discussing everyone’s ideas. If you are, or know someone, who is a woman aged 18-30 and would like to be involved in our campaign please contact us, we want to hear from you.