Apprenticeship gender pay gap grows amidst concerns about quality

Monday 13 January 2020

YWT logoThe 2018/19 Apprenticeship Pay Survey is unfortunately a familiar read - non-compliance with the minimum wage and a growing gender pay gap are just two of the issues that are again raised in this report. These aren’t new problems and serve to show that there needs to be serious work put into solving them. There is a danger that because the findings are similar to past findings our reaction to them is muted. When a fifth of apprentices are illegally paid under the minimum wage then the only reaction to have should be one of shock and anger.

The survey conducted by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has shown a growing gender pay gap in apprenticeships. Men undertaking apprenticeships are now paid nearly six percent more than their female counterparts - almost double the gap since the survey was last carried out in 2016.

The survey also reveals that just two in five women receive formal training as part of their apprenticeship compared to three in five men (57%) as concerns grow that young women continue to be pushed into lower quality apprenticeships with fewer opportunities to progress.

A 2018 report from Young Women’s Trust found that a significant number of apprentices struggle financially and that progression rates are poor, particularly for young women. 

Sophie Walker, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust said: 

“This report once again highlights the sexism and discrimination that young women face even at the very beginning of their careers. This discrimination not only shuts them out of apprenticeships such as engineering and construction that have the best opportunities for pay and progression but fails to provide high quality opportunities in childcare and social care in which the majority of young women apprentices work. 

“Apprentices need access to decent levels of pay and financial support. They need opportunities to access quality apprenticeships and progress, no matter what their background. And they need protection and support so that their apprenticeship is an environment in which they can flourish. This is true for all apprentices, but it is young women who are least likely to benefit from apprenticeships and who stand to gain most from these changes. 

“If apprenticeships are to live up to their potential and deliver the vital skills the economy needs, urgent changes are now needed to ensure they work for everyone, including young women.  We must end the discrimination which limits the choices young women can make and invest more in the vital social infrastructure like childcare and social care so that working in these sectors is valued and offers the same level of pay and security as other apprenticeships.”

Amy Dowling from the National Society of Apprentices said:

“The findings are a serious insight into the failings of the governments approach to making sure all apprentices are paid what they are legally entitled to. If this report was about any other part of the workforce the response would be severe and far reaching, we fully expect for the response to this survey to match this.

In the 2019 Conservative manifesto they committed to creating a single enforcement body and crack down on any employer abusing employment law. We would strongly suggest that the government introduce this body as soon as possible and that its first priority should be to fix the problems identified in this survey.”

 Katie Fiddaman from The Apprentice Voice said:

“The Apprentice Voice strongly believes that the apprentice minimum wage is inequitable and needs scrapping. To pay below the minimum wage is not just exploitative, but illegal and employers doing so should be served with the maximum fine. It is clear from the findings of this report that apprentices and women in particular are not being treated with the respect they deserve. “If employers and the government are serious about providing the skilled workers required to help the economy thrive then they must first work on ensuring that all apprentices are paid a fair wage that they can afford to live on.” 

Notes to editors

  1. This release refers to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released on 10th January 2020: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-pay-survey-2018-to-2019
  2. Young Women’s Trust released it’s report “The Real Cost of Apprenticeships...” in November 2019: https://www.youngwomenstrust.org/the-real-cost
  3. For more information, please contact:

    Phone Joe Levenson on 020 7837 2019
    Email joe.levenson@youngwomenstrust.org

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