YWT announces business leader as its first ambassador

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Young Women’s Trust announces business leader as its first ambassador 

YWTYoung Women’s Trust has today announced that James Wates CBE, chair of leading construction, development and property services business the Wates Group, will be the charity’s first ambassador, as it strives to support more women into male-dominated industries.

The charity, which supports women aged 16 to 30 who are on low or no pay and are at risk of poverty, will work with Mr Wates to address barriers women face to entering sectors like construction. 

Young Women’s Trust is currently campaigning to make apprenticeships work for women. It has found that gender stereotypes and a lack of support can shut women out of areas like construction. As a result, women get less pay, less training and are less likely to get a job at the end of their apprenticeship, as they instead go into lower-paid areas like beauty, care and administration. Young Women’s Trust believes that supporting women into a wider range of industries, many of which are seeing skills shortages, would benefit not just women but businesses and the economy too. 

Mr Wates will bring his wealth of experience in the construction industry – and his belief that good business, well done, is good for society – to support the charity’s work. Through his 30-year career, he has seen that responsible business creates jobs, supports individuals’ career development, invests in the community, generates tax revenue, and adds social value. This commitment to the alignment of business and social benefit is behind his decision to become an ambassador for Young Women’s Trust. 

James Wates CBE said:

“The Young Women’s Trust does tremendous work, and I am very pleased to be supporting it as its first ambassador. In the construction industry, we are experiencing significant skills shortages, and one of the reasons for this is our collective failure to recruit and retain women. 

“The nature of jobs in construction – as in many sectors – is changing, with digitalisation and more off-site work bringing new opportunities to recruit a more diverse and innovative workforce. I’m excited to be working with Young Women’s Trust to address the underrepresentation of women in construction and many other sectors, which is not just the right thing to do, but also in our economic best interests.” 

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

“The growing skills shortage in sectors like construction and engineering will not be filled unless employers help 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 due to issues like gender stereotypes and a lack of support. 

"Women still make up just nine per cent of engineers, 11 per cent of the construction workforce and 17 per cent of IT professionals. Instead, women are more likely to go into lower paid sectors, where they receive less training, fewer opportunities and often struggle to make ends meet.

"Young Women's Trust is excited to be working with our new charity ambassador James Wates to look at how businesses can improve the gender balance in their workforces.”

Young Women’s Trust is encouraging employers to sign its pledge to support more young women onto apprenticeship schemes.


Notes to editor 

About Young Women’s Trust 

Young Women’s Trust (www.youngwomenstrust.org) 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.

Young Women’s Trust this year launched a report, Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women: a good practice guide, outlining steps companies can take to be bold for change. The report builds on previous Young Women’s Trust research, released last year, which found that women tend to undertake apprenticeships in fewer sectors than men; in 2014, there were 56 men starting an apprenticeship in construction for every woman – a figure that has hardly changed in the last decade. As a result of working in lower-paid sectors, young women apprentices receive lower pay than men; women get an average of £4.82 an hour compared with £5.85, leaving women potentially over £2000 worse off per year. Women apprentices are less likely to receive training as part of their apprenticeship too; Young Women’s Trust polling with ComRes found that 23 per cent received no training outside of work, compared to 12 per cent of young men. Women are also more likely to be out of work at the end of their apprenticeship; 16 per cent of women said that they were out of work, compared to 6 per cent of men.

Since releasing the original report, Young Women’s Trust has been encouraging employers to sign its pledge to increase women’s representation on apprenticeship schemes. Organisations including Wates, Balfour Beatty, Asda and Barclays have signed the pledge.

For more information, please contact Bex Bailey on 07963018281 or bex.bailey@youngwomenstrust.org

About James Wates CBE

James feels passionately that good business, well done, is good for society. Through his 30-year career, he has seen that responsible business creates jobs, supports individuals’ career development, invests in the community, generates tax revenue, and adds social value. This commitment to the alignment of business and social benefit is integrated into the operations of the Wates Group, of which James is Chairman, and has led him to take on a number of other roles, such as Chairman of the think tank Tomorrow’s Company, Chairman of the Princes Trust Corporate Advisory Group, and Ambassador for the Young Women’s Trust.

He has worked in construction all his life and seeks to drive change in the sector to ensure that it meets the UK’s needs for a high quality infrastructure and buildings in which people live, learn, work and enjoy life. Within the industry, he has held numerous positions through which he has championed change, including Chairman of the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Past President of the Chartered Institute of Building, and Chairman of the BRE (Building Research Establishment) Trust. To help ensure that the UK punches its weight internationally, he has taken on the role of Co-chair of Infrastructure Exports: UK.

Reflecting his belief that education and support for young people are the key to society’s long-term growth and success, he holds positions as a Governor of the University of Westminster, Trustee of the University College of Estate Management, and Governor of the Emanuel School.

In 2012 he was awarded the CBE for services to construction and the charitable sector.