Tuesday 8 September 2015

“Without training, apprenticeships become a source of cheap labour for employers,” warns Young Women’s Trust

The gender pay gap first appears in apprenticeships, according to new research from Young Women’s Trust, which also reveals that as well as being paid less, female apprentices are less likely to receive training and less likely to end up with a job.   

A poll by ComRes, commissioned by Young Women’s Trust to launch its new apprenticeships campaign, shows that on average young men are earning 21% more than young women while doing an apprenticeship. According to the poll, female apprentices earn just £4.82 an hour compared with £5.85 an hour for male apprentices. That means a young woman working 35 hours a week will be £2,000 worse off over the course of a year.

A fundamental aspect of apprenticeships is the combination of training at work, training outside of work and practical work experience. But again young women are losing out.

While undertaking apprenticeships young women are almost twice as likely to report that they missed out on training. Some 7% said they received no training at work (compared to 4% of young men) and 23% received no training outside of work (compared to 12% of young men). Without training, apprenticeships become a source of cheap labour for employers and offer little benefit to the employee.

Apprenticeships are valued because they are seen as a route to employment.  But here too, young women are disadvantaged. After completing their apprenticeship, some 16% of women were out of work, compared to 6% of men.

Says Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust: “Apprenticeships often provide young people with a valuable insight into the realities of the workplace and it is incredibly sad that that one of these realities is that many women will be worse off than their male counterparts. The gender pay gap isn’t something that opens up later, or exists only in the boardroom.”

One of the reasons why young women are paid less to undertake apprenticeships is that the sectors they tend to work in - such as administration, health care and retail - are likely to be poorly paid.

Dr Easton adds: “It is staggering that in the 21st Century certain employment sectors are hardly welcoming any young women; less than 2% of construction apprentices are female and less than 4% of engineering apprentices. And, according to the same official figures, even in IT & Telecoms the figure only rises to 12%.” 

Young Women’s Trust will be campaigning to make a wider range of apprenticeships available to young women. A third of women (33%) told ComRes that if there were a wider range of specialisms available, apprenticeships would be more attractive.

The poll showed that young men and young women have different priorities in considering apprenticeships. Young women tended to reference issues surrounding making the apprenticeship process itself more secure and convenient, being more likely than their male counterparts to mention higher pay for apprentices and flexibility of hours so that they can be combined with caring responsibilities. Young men on the other hand were more likely than young women to say that confidence that the apprenticeship would lead to highly paid jobs in the future was important.

Says Dr Easton: “When looking at how we can get more young women into work we need to begin with apprenticeships and the part they play in unlocking the talents of young women and ensuring that they can contribute fully to the economy and to society.”


Note to Editors:

ComRes interviewed 1,002 British adults aged 18-30 who have not been to university. An additional 267 interviews were conducted with 18-30s who had either completed or are currently undertaking an apprenticeship, taking the total number of apprentices in the survey to 532. The samples were weighted to make them representative.

Young Women’s Trust supports and represents over one million women aged 16-30 trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.

For further information please contact: Dr Carole Easton on 020 7600 7451