Just three per cent of construction apprentices are female

Just three per cent of apprenticeships in the construction industry were taken up by females, new data shows.

Wates apprentices, Natalie Harris (L) and Aimee Shann (R), based at the Wellington Place development, Leeds.

The figures from the Education and Skills Funding Agency cover the 2017/18 academic year and also show that 85 per cent of new apprenticeships in lower paid professions were female.

A range of national research shows that male-dominated apprenticeships such as construction and engineering offer better pay and prospects than those in which women are concentrated.

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For example, according to recent Department for Education figures, median earnings for apprentices five years post training for Construction, Planning and the Built Environment are £26,600 compared with £14,600 for health and care professional, where more roles are held by women.

The data comes against a backdrop of a 26 per cent fall in the number of apprenticeships in the Leeds City Region and a 24 per cent decline nationally.

During the academic year just 22,250 people started apprenticeships in the Leeds City Region, a fall of 7,970 on the previous year. The introduction of reforms to the UK apprenticeships system, including the Apprenticeship Levy, are attributed for the decline.

In response the independent Future-Ready Skills Commission, which is supported by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to shape the future of the skills system, plans to tackle this issue by promoting apprenticeships.

Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, chair of the WYCA and of the Future-Ready Skills Commission, said: “Not only are women and girls missing out on better pay and better career prospects in sectors that offer massive opportunities for growth, but so is our economy. Demand for skills in the construction and engineering sectors is huge, so we need to find ways of overcoming outdated stereotypes and encourage more young women into these sectors.”

Coun Hinchliffe said the FutureGoals initiative, would encourage teachers and young people to explore opportunities in high-demand sectors. WYCA is also increasing funding for businesses in our region to take on an apprentice.

She said: “We want to develop a skills system in which young people receive first class careers information based on real labour market intelligence and everyone is, inspired into careers based on skills and interests, rather than preconceived ideas of what would be suitable roles based on gender, ethnicity or background.”