Stereotypes within Apprenticeships

Stereotypes in Apprenticeships

It is a broadly known fact that gender stereotypes, among many other stereotypes, remain rife in the world of work. Despite the fact that apprenticeships are inclusive for all ages, genders and ethnicities, this is no different in the world of apprenticeships either. But we want to know: What can be done about it?

Although numbers are gradually increasing, there is a very obvious lack of female apprentice uptake in particular sectors. These sectors include: construction, engineering, mechanics etc. On the other side of this, there is little male uptake in sectors such as Health and Social Work, Care or Business Administration. Clearly these fit with the ‘typical gender roles’ that many young people feel they must fit into. However, we are questioning what more can be done to make ALL apprenticeships appeal to ANYONE. No matter what gender, age or ethnicity.

According to a report by the Commercial Education Trust, Teenage Apprenticeships: Converting awareness to recruitment, gender stereotyping is still highly prevalent. The report states that more needs to be done to challenge the misconceptions about apprenticeships generally by communicating the many benefits of apprenticeships to school teachers and also to challenge the common gender stereotypes surrounding job roles.

What sectors do these stereotypes exist in?

A particularly segregated area of apprenticeships in terms of gender is Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies. According to a report by Andrew Powell and Work Institute, the overall uptake of apprenticeships in this field has seen an overall decline over the last couple of years, with now more than 61,400 starts in 2017/18. In addition to this, it is very worth noting that only 4,470 of these apprentices are female, which is just 7.1%. We have to ask: ‘What message is this sending to young women at school considering their futures?’. In very obvious contrast to this is the Human Health and Social Work apprenticeships where uptake is over 139,000 in 2016/17, and 85% of these starts were female.

The first question to address is: Is this a problem? Whilst many would argue that this is just where young people will naturally gravitate towards and there is no problem, however we at the Solent Apprenticeship Hub feel that it is something that needs to change. The reason for this being that there may be young people considering entering a particular field, if they see that this field is entirely dominated by the opposite gender, do you think they will really still feel as strongly that’s the path they want to follow? By making courses accessible, attainable and balanced it will encourage the idea that there is no set  path to you as a result of your gender.

Obviously to make a difference to this is not going to be a simple task, and we must consider where first to start to make revisions in policy and attitudes to ensure that there is meaningful change. There is no easy answer to this, as what influences young people to choose the apprenticeships they do, will likely differ from person-to-person. This could include their: schools, parents, peers or from other outside influences.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this issue, so please share your thoughts with us on our social media platforms, we are on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Check out some of our other blog posts such as Stigmas Surrounding Apprenticeships, Why Become an Apprentice? or read about the most obscure apprenticeships. You can also find out more about the apprenticeships by watching our video where one of our advisers answers the web’s most searched apprenticeship questions.