Equality at work? positive action in gender segregated apprenticeships (summary report)
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractSome of Britain’s crucial industries are struggling to recruit the staff they need. As part of the Government’s commitment to meeting this skills gap, a target was set in 2015 of three million new apprenticeship starts by 2020. However, it is questionable whether the Government will meet this target or its wider aspiration to make apprenticeships more accessible. Despite this skills gap, women continue to be significantly under-represented in many parts of the economy – with little progress having been made in recent years. While there are more female than male apprentices, women remain locked out of sectors with significant skills gaps and which offer good pay and good prospects. The percentage of female engineering apprentices actually declined from 4.6% in 2002 to 3.1% in 2015.1 In construction there are just three female to every 98 male apprentices; and in Information Technology (IT) 35 females to 186 males. Addressing this chronic under-representation will give women more opportunities to enter areas of work with better quality apprenticeships, prospects and pay2 than where they are currently working – such as in the retail or caring sectors. Given this background and building on our key 2016 report, Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women, YWT commissioned Professor Chantal Davies of the University of Chester to carry out research into the use of Positive Action (PA), with a special focus on its use in apprenticeships within engineering, construction and IT.3 The research consisted of: • A survey of over 4,000 young people aged 18-30 carried out by Populus Data Solutions; • A survey of 800 HR decision-makers carried out by YouGov to understand attitudes towards use of Positive Action in apprenticeships; • Series of focus groups and semi structured interviews with sector bodies, apprentices and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) representatives.4 • Data triangulation with literature and data from a roundtable discussion in March 2018 hosted by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC roundtable) looking at the use of Positive Action in relation to under- representation on the grounds of disability, race and gender in apprenticeships across England, Scotland and Wales. Through this research we found that there is very significant confusion about Positive Action and whether and how it can be used – despite the fact that the majority of employers were committed to measures to bring about gender equality. While not a panacea or suf cient in isolation, our research suggests Positive Action is being chronically under-utilised, which in turn is acting as a barrier to addressing the under-representation of women in key sectors within apprenticeships and beyond.
CitationDavies, C. (2018). Equality at work? positive action in gender segregated apprenticeships. London, United Kingdom: Young Women's Trust.
PublisherYoung Women's Trust
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