More men than women start apprenticeships

Monday 6 February 2017

More men than women start apprenticeships for first time since 2010

YWTYoung Women’s Trust analysis shows that 8,000 more men than women started apprenticeships last autumn, as new male apprentices look set to outnumber women this year for the first time since 2010.

The Department for Education and Skills Funding Agency data shows an increase in the proportion of people starting apprenticeships in construction and engineering. This could explain the rise as these sectors tend to be dominated by men.

As demand in these sectors increases, employers fear a skills shortage unless more people are trained up.

Young Women’s Trust research shows that apprenticeships are not working for young women. Gender stereotypes and a lack of support can shut women out of male-dominated sectors like construction and engineering. Women tend to go into lower-paid sectors, contributing to an apprentice gender pay gap of 21 per cent – or £2,000 a year. They are less likely to receive training during their apprenticeship and less likely to get a job after.

Young Women’s Trust is calling for action to support young women into apprenticeships.

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:

“The growing skills shortage in sectors like construction and engineering is all the more reason to support more young women into relevant apprenticeships. But Young Women’s Trust has found that young women across the country are shut out of these sectors. It is shocking that last year, in London, there were no higher level women apprentices in either construction or engineering.

“Supporting young women into these apprenticeships benefits women, benefits businesses and benefits the economy. We need urgent action.

“We would like to see clear pathways made available to young women with low or no qualifications, so they can start apprenticeships and progress to the higher levels. Much greater provision of part-time and flexible apprenticeships would also help young mothers and carers in particular, who often have to balance care with work.”

Young Women’s Trust is encouraging employers to sign its pledge to support more young women onto apprenticeship schemes. So far, companies including Asda, Network Rail and Barclays have signed up.


Notes to editor:

  1. The Department for Education and the Skills Funding Agency on 26 January 2017 released data on the number of apprenticeship starts, achievements, and participation:
  2. The data shows that 81,690 men started apprenticeships between August and October 2016 (52.5 per cent), compared to 73,940 women (47.5 per cent). Data from previous years, going back to 2009/10, shows that 45-47 per cent of people starting apprenticeships are male and 53-55 per cent are female.
  3. In 2015/16, 4.2 per cent of apprenticeship starts were in the construction sector and 15.4 per cent in engineering. In August-October 2016, 7 per cent of starts were in construction and 20.4 per cent in engineering. The increase in the proportion of people starting apprenticeships in these sectors could explain the overall rise in the number of men starting apprenticeships, as these sectors tend to be dominated by men due to gender stereotyping and a lack of support for women.
  4. Skills Funding Agency and Department for Education data from December 2016 shows that women are participating in apprenticeships at an older age than men. In 2014/15, 55,000 more young men than young women were participating in apprenticeships. 220,000 women apprentices in the same year were over the age of 25, compared to 140,000 men.
  5. The Federation of Master Builders yesterday (25 January 2017) warned of an increasing skills shortage in construction, which is spreading to other areas. Its ‘State of Trade Survey’ for Q4 2016 found that:
    1. almost half of construction SMEs are reporting difficulties hiring roofers (46 per cent);
    2. shortages of electricians and plasterers are at their highest point in four years;
    3. the SME construction sector has experienced fifteen consecutive quarters of growth.
    4. Young Women’s Trust released a report about apprenticeships in 2016, ‘Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women’. The report shows that:
      1. Women tend to work in fewer sectors than men. In 2014, there were 56 men starting an apprenticeship in construction for every woman. There were 25 men for every woman starting an apprenticeship in engineering. These figures have hardly changed in the last decade.
      2. Young women apprentices receive lower pay than men; an average of £4.82 an hour compared with £5.854. Male apprentices get paid 21% more per hour, leaving women potentially over £2000 worse off per year.
      3. Women are less likely to receive training as part of their apprenticeship. Young Women’s Trust polling with ComRes found that 7% of young women said they received no training at work, compared to 4% of young men. 23% received no training outside of work, compared to 12% of young men.
      4. Women are more likely to be out of work at the end of their apprenticeship. 16% of women said that they were out of work, compared to 6% of men.
      5. The Government has set a target of creating three million apprentices by the end of this parliament. Action is required to prevent current gender trends becoming further entrenched. Apprenticeships need to serve young women better and enable the full labour market to benefit from young women’s talents.
      6. Organisations are signing the Young Women’s Trust pledge to commit to improving gender diversity on their apprenticeship programmes. The pledge states that: “Our organisation recognises the value of gender diversity and will take action to increase the representation of young women in our apprenticeship programmes.”
      7. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 struggling to live on low or no pay in England and Wales and who are at risk of being trapped in poverty.

10.  For more information, please contact Bex Bailey on or 07963018281.