Submission from the UK Resource Centre
for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC) and supported
by the WISE Campaign
1.1 The UK Resource Centre for Women in
SET works to significantly improve the participation and position
of women in science, engineering and technology occupations in
industry, research, academia, and public service to benefit the
future productivity of the UK and the lifetime earnings and career
aspirations of women. It is the UK's leading centre providing
information and advisory services to employers and organisations
in the SET sectors and supporting women entering, returning and
progressing in these fields.
1.2 The UKRC and its partner organisations
have considerable experience over a number of years of working
on the under representation of women in Science, Engineering,
and Technology and Construction/Built Environment atypical careers
and occupations at all levels, including apprenticeships. This
submission is based on this experience and additional analysis.
From this point in the submission "SET" is meant to
include the built environment and construction and includes Mathematics.
1.3 The UKRC has developed an integrated
framework which addresses the whole of the potential education
employment pathway (from school into and throughout working life),
and encompasses all levels of learning and employment in SET,
including vocational access routes and pre-16 supply interventions.
The UKRC's integrated framework identifies influencers and intermediaries
(which are relevant to specific areas of education or work like
apprenticeships, eg the Sector Skills Councils) whose policies
or service delivery impact on women's participation in SET learning
and employment. These organisations can play an important role
in promoting equality through better systems, structures, representations
and processes and helping to breakdown gender based assumptions
and stereotypes. An integrated framework recognises that coordinated
interventions at all levels of learning and employment combined
with awareness raising for those that educate and influence career
decisions, are necessary to increase the participation and position
of women in SET. Relevant policies should include gender equality
in SET as a priority focus to support an integrated strategy.
1.4 The Gender Equality Duty, designed to
mainstream equality considerations into policy development and
implementation, applies to the development of Apprenticeships.
Full application of its provisions and expectations would improve
likely outcomes for women and girls.
Action is needed on two fronts: in relation
to supply and demand issues. Individual girls and women have to
be enabled and attracted into SECT apprenticeships. But, in addition,
employers and learning or training providers have to transform
curricula, the learning environment, work place culture and HR
An awareness of the needs of atypical apprentices
is implicit in the Bill's spirit, but is also somewhat formulaic.
What is lacking in the Review and hence the Bill are the specifics
about the issues and practical measures which can address discrimination,
gender stereotyping and male dominated cultures. UKRC draws the
department and the Select Committee's attention to the references
to resources and good practice made throughout this submission
and to our work with schools on Widening Horizons and the "How
to" good practice guides published by UKRC and produced by
the JIVE project.
Section 2 provides an outline of evidence demonstrating
the severe under representation of women in vocational training
and occupations. It shows the extent of attrition and points out
that there are considerable resources available, which describe
the situation and provide solutions.
Section 3 looks in detail at the limitations
of the bill and makes a number of recommendations and suggestions
which the committee is invited to consider in detail in that part
of the submission.
Our further specific suggestions which form
Section 4 are presented here and not repeated below:
1. Positive action targets to increase the numbers
of women in occupations and crafts where women are currently under
2. Well developed provisions, support and resources
for NAS, employers and learning providers to address discrimination
and gender stereotyping through better policy and HR practices
and to develop inclusive cultures which welcome, retain and progress
women from all backgrounds. Some of these are outlined in the
body of this submission. The EOC evidence and recommendations
referred to above should be taken account of.
3. The collection and dissemination of disaggregated
data by gender and ethnicity so we can all see how many women
and men are working in atypical areas.
4. The development and expansion of flexible,
properly resourced and well implemented adult apprenticeship schemes,
because adult women are more likely than young women to enter
traditionally masculine fields of employment. To include active
promotion of opportunities for late entry to apprenticeships.
To include exemptions for under represented groups like women
from the higher level qualifications exclusion.
5. Provisions for flexible childcare support.
6. The provision and encouragement of mentoring
and networking support for women apprentices with links to national
7. An increase in the number of school level
activities that involve girls in acquiring STEM skills. These
should include schools arranging or expecting key mixed gender
SET enrichment and enhancement activities to be taken up equitably
(50:50 girl and boys). Positive action with activities targeted
at girls will also have a place, for example, science club activities
for girls modelled on the CC4G computer clubs programme.
8. Co-ordinated action by government and business
to boost supply by increasing recruitment into learning/qualification
pathways but also address attrition by addressing structural and
cultural barriers in the workplace. Comprehensive implementation
of the gender duty.
9. Life time/career long support and change services
and programmes will be required to sustain an increase in the
numbers of women entering vocational and technical occupations
through apprenticeships. UKRC's main service area is directed
at increasing the representation, progression, retention and return
of women in SET at level 4 +, but offer a model of good practice
in creating change for women in SET across the skill level range.
2. EVIDENCE OF
2.1 The TUC recently produced figures on
the participation of girls and young women in Apprenticeship schemes.
Table 1, taken from their report, shows how small a proportion
of apprentices in construction, engineering and vehicle maintenance
are women, compared to traditional female areas such as hairdressing
and health and social care. What is even more worrying is that
the percentage of women has reduced in engineering and vehicle
maintenance, and only remained the same in construction. We would
have hoped to see an increase in the participation of girls if
there had been sufficient resources and motivation for well conceived
and properly implemented gender initiatives including those supporting
the transition from school to work.
APPRENTICESHIP STARTSPROPORTION OF
WOMEN APPRENTICES IN TOP 10 FRAMEWORKS, 2002-03 AND 2006-07
% women apprentices
(level 2 and level 3)
|Hospitality and Catering||50.6
|Children's Care Learning and Development
|Health and Social Care||88.9
|Vehicle Maintenance and Repair||2.9
2.2 The report also noted that this situation was worse
in schemes run by larger employers who are part of the Learning
and Skills Council National Employers Service (NES):
"Of the 10 most popular Apprenticeship frameworks with
NES employers, six had less than 11% women apprentices. Even more
strikingly, four of the five most popular Apprenticeships taken
up via the NES have less than 4% women. These are construction
(1.2%), vehicle maintenance (1.3%), engineering (3.5%) and electrotechnical
(1.5%)." (TUC, 2008, page 5).
2.3 The UKRC draws together and analyses data about women
with SET qualifications and their employment destinations. A paper
recently submitted to the call for evidence: Analysis on Demand
for STEM skills by the UKRC on women and men's participation across
the educational and skills levels showed that at every level of
education and training, fewer women than men are choosing to gain
STEM qualifications and skills and to move into STEM employment.
But this situation is most severe in STEM vocational training.
And women with STEM qualifications are more likely to work in
non-STEM occupations, not in STEM.
2.4 The EOC undertook a formal investigation into occupational
segregation in 2004-05
and this has also informed our analysis. The committee should
take account of this along with other EOC research undertaken
in this area of sex stereotyping and work and education. In particular
note that EOC research showed that girls say they would have been
influenced in their choice of career had they know of the detrimental
pay differentials between different apprenticeships, before and
after training. Occupational segregation reflected in apprenticeships
contributes to the gender pay gap.
3. LIMITATIONS OF
UK RESOURCE CENTRE
The Review: World Class Apprenticeships: Unlocking Talent,
Building Skills for All incorporated some attention to equality
and positive action in a way not hitherto offered in policy documents
concerning post 16 education. This included references to the
need for advice and guidance to aid access and overcome barriers
and thus address past discrimination by employers and workplace
However the Review fell short in significant ways and the
Bill reflects these shortcomings.
We list the key problems here. Provisions or changes in the
Bill to take account of them would strengthen the likelihood of
increasing women's representation in atypical work areas and reduce
the pay gap as well as improving productivity:
3.1 More explicit measures to address underrepresentation
Measures to address under representation are mentioned but
late in the Review document, almost as an after thought. UKRC
believes there were numerous opportunities to address gender equality
throughout the Review, which would have resulted in the integration
of a more solid approach to under representation and inequality.
For instance, as we said above, the Review could have called upon
the considerable material and advice contained within reports
and policy recommendations made by the EOC.
The Bill needs to be more explicit about addressing gender
equality given the huge disparities between the numbers of women
and men. For instance, women often get put off by being left too
long on long waiting lists and then get "cold feet"
and take up safer offers, which can be in traditionally female
sectors. This loss of potential talent needs addressing.
The Bill could require gender disaggregated targets perhaps
protected by ring fenced places especially in popular occupations,
to be drawn up by the National Apprenticeship Service in conjunction
with the Learning and Skills Council. The UKRC can be consulted
as to reasonable targets.
3.2 Economic benefits: the business case
The economic benefits to the country of an apprenticeship
programme not occupationally segregated along gender lines should
have been in the introduction to the Review and appropriately
reflected in the Bill. This would emphasise the importance of
tackling inequalities. The UKRC has research briefings on the
business case for women in SECT.
3.3 Strengthening apprenticeshipsaddressing equality
It is not enough to acknowledge, as the review does, unsuitable
facilities, hostile environments, loneliness and misunderstandings:
having recognised these issues it is time to put in place solutions.
Good practice guidelines would help employers and learning providers
and the UKRC has examples of these produced during the European
funded JIVE project. During the JIVE project also input gender
proofing support in relation to Further Education to the DfES.
The training and development of apprentices could be strengthened
by new curriculum content in the shape of well developed and resourced
module on equality and diversity, designed by gender and equality
experts, and going beyond the content of the module about rights
at work. Delivered in the induction phase, learning and training
providers etc. should be supported by teaching aids, lesson plans,
case studies, promotional materials etc.
Such a module should be coupled with the integration of a
gender perspective throughout the knowledge based and technical
learning aspects of apprenticeship training as a whole. Tutors/trainers/assessors
need to be equipped to ensure inclusive teaching practices are
incorporated within competency based elements of the programme.
3.4 Supervision and mentoring
The need to adequately supervise apprentices is recognised
in the Bill. However, the Bill neither recognises nor makes provision
to resource appropriate mentoring, which has proven success in
supporting individuals who may be isolated. It is widely recognised
that there are considerable benefits of mentoring if mentors themselves
have first hand understanding of the problems faced by a trainee
from under represented groups. Such mentors provide role models
which inspire and motivate trainees. There are good practice examples
of mentoring arrangements and the UKRC can support organisations
wanting to implement mentoring schemes.
3.5 Access and pathways to HE from atypical apprenticeship
The Bill does not demonstrate an adequate understanding of
the problems faced by under represented groups in accessing routes
into apprenticeships or from apprenticeships into HE. This element
needs an in depth gender analysis. Broadly speaking, many of the
same barriers which face women generally when taking up HE qualifications
in SET exist in this pathway and need to be addressed to widen
access and participation. Evidence of the difficulties has been
identified in data from the Engineering Training Board and UCAS.
Methods to overcome the barriers and help to attract women
into further qualifications in atypical area, include well run
open days and other forms of proactive encouragement from HE providers
to over come gender stereotyping. A holistic package would include
support systems, providing role models, adjustments to a curriculum
which tends to be based on previous male dominated learner profiles,
challenging gender stereotyping.
3.6 Inclusive learning environmentsadditional needs
It is imperative that inclusive learning environments are
built into the heart of all training programmes. This will ensure
that the different needs of atypical trainees are accommodated
and met, leading to increased retention and progression, Tutors
will need support in understanding how to achieve this through
awareness raising and action plans.
The Bill does not address these additional needs adequately.
Therefore, the clause 22 1b, about "assisting the effective
participation of persons" should be expanded to take into
account atypical learners and include wording to ensure a duty
for providers to actively support the recruitment and retention
of atypical learners.
3.7 National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)
The remit of the NAS is not robust enough to address the
stark lack of participation of women in atypical apprenticeships
through positive action and awareness raising amongst potential
trainees, learning and training providers and employers.
3.8 Additional risks to employers
The Bill acknowledges the perceived risks to employers of
taking on the training of apprentices. The Bill should also explicitly
address the additional perceived risks faced by employers including
SMEs, concerning employing and training women in atypical occupations
NAS should be resourced so they are equipped to improve the
confidence of employers to take on women apprentices where for
instance they are uncertain of how to provide suitable facilities,
provide appropriate well fitting personal protective clothing
or deal with the reaction of the existing workforce.
3.9 Helping employers to recruit, progress and retain women
The Bill should incorporate support to employers to help
them address barriers they may raise, so that they can genuinely
encourage and progress women in their companies. Employers will
need to make changes to their HR practices and address entrenched
cultural attitudes. The UKRC website has a series of case studies
which show how this is starting to happen.
Research is also needed into the attrition rate amongst apprentice
trained/qualified trades womenmany have qualified over
the years but have given up.
Clause 22 2a on "services provided" should thus
incorporate measures to put in place support for learning providers
and employers to develop good practice: positive action to ensure
a supply of atypical learners and to influence good practice on
the demand sideinformation, advice and guidance to learners
and to employers and learning providers must be expanded and properly
resourced to explicitly address gender issues and women as atypical
3.10 Adult Apprenticeships and removing the age cap
The EOC evidence shows that women enter construction and
engineering at an older age. Women are likely to benefit from
opportunities for post 19/adult entry because in general they
become less susceptible to the influence or impact of gender stereotyping.
Removing the age cap can benefit women who have been out of training
and employment due to caring responsibilities and for these reasons
UKRC supports the removal.
The Bill does not adequately address the advantages of removing
the age cap for apprenticeships. The Bill mainly addresses the
provision for young people to access apprenticeships. There is
some provision in the proposed Skills Accounts, but a more prominent
and proactive approach would improve the participation of women.
Adult apprenticeships pilots have been run but it is not clear
that they were properly understood by the appropriate stakeholders
or advertised widely enough and the Select Committee may like
to satisfy itself about this.
Therefore Clause 21 3f1b should be strengthened with respect
to the promotion of and arrangements for post 19 opportunities.
In addition, a number of adult apprentices especially women
will need additional funding support and assistance with childcare
to enable them to move into an apprenticeship and therefore resources
for this will be needed.
The clause on the suitability and availability of apprenticeship
places (21 3h) should be expanded to include the need to provide
due consideration when placing apprentices who have caring responsibilities.
UKRC also argues that opportunities to undertake and complete
apprenticeship training could be enhanced and made more accessible
by offering part time and flexible arrangements in the delivery
of the courses and in the completion of the work based components.
Time expiry issues also need addressing, allowing more flexibility
with respect to age and completion.
3.11 Avoiding inadvertent discrimination
Clause 21 3h 7 (Published Criterion) may involve a potential
loophole, which could result in sex discrimination if a managing
agent inadvertently condoned the exclusion of women because of
the existing workplace conditionsfor example, having no
single sex facilities. We suggest this should be clarified.
3.12 Existing qualifications
Clause 31 1 states that in order to satisfy the apprenticeship
scheme requirements at level 2 a person must (c) not hold an apprenticeship
certificate at level 2 or above. This condition may exclude women
returners as they may hold a higher qualification (above level
2) in another sector. In the past this sort of requirement has
been a barrier to entry for women who wish to enter non-traditional
occupations. This should be reviewed flexibly in light of the
under representation of women and also skill shortages.
3.13 Specifications of apprenticeship standards
Apprentices should take a module in equality and diversity,
as outlined above, particularly where there is gross under representation.
As members of the future workforce they themselves need to develop
the skills and knowledge to champion equalities and address the
problems that arise from the cultures in these segregated sectors.
The Bill should outline the duty to provide a well resourced
equality and diversity module designed by gender and equality
experts including lesson plans, training materials etc. A gender
perspective should also be integrated throughout the knowledge
based and technical training aspects. Tutors and trainers and
assessors should be provided with additional training on inclusive
teaching practices. These should be incorporated into the competency
elements of the programme. UKRC and the JIVE project can provide
models of good practice here.
4. RECOMMENDATIONS TO
These can be found in the executive summary.
The WISE campaign collaborates with industry and education to
encourage UK girls of school age (19 and under) to value and purse
STEM or construction related courses in school or college and
move on into related careers.
TUC, (2008) "Still more (better paid) jobs for the boys." Back
For instance WISE has partnered with the LSC and with QIA to run
special demonstration projects with the Navy in Gosport and with
ECAT (Aerospace Training) in Macclesfield, introducing girls to
the SET workplace and technical apprenticeships. Their learning
and good practice can be mainstreamed. Back
Attrition data available from UKRC-previously submitted and available
on our site; Submission to the call for evidence: Analysis on
Demand for STEM skills: www.ukrc4setwomen.org/html/about-ukrc/influencing-policy Back
Plugging Britain's Skills Gaps: challenging gender segregation
in training and work
DIUS, World Class Apprenticeships: Unlocking Talent, Building
Skills for All, p47 Back
Andrews, A. (2005) Young women in a modern apprenticeship scheme
in engineering construction: research report for Jive Partners Back
UKRC publications including JIVE project products: http://www.ukrc4setwomen.org/html/resources/ukrc-publications/ Back