For many years now there has been “Diversity” on the lips of a significant number of organisations across the UK, but more importantly the “Gender pay gap”. There have been many arguments from both genders to try and justify the reasons why; this is the 21st century, there should no belief that men are better than women at certain roles, over the years this has diminished and the days for excuses are over. It’s time to focus on building a bridge and closing the gap, increasing our economy and productivity whilst utilising all available resource.
In 2014/15, 53% of apprenticeships starts were by women (261,000) and 47% by men (231,000) however, gender segregation between sectors is still present. The pattern of dwindling numbers continues as women move into the workplace. 53% of apprenticeship starts were women however only 2% of these we’re in construction and 4% in engineering sectors. Stats also show that the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineers in the European Union, at less than 10%. In contrast, more than 90% of women made up hairdressing apprenticeships in 2011-12, according to unionlearn, the TUC’s skills organization.
On this basis alone, there has never been such a greater opportunity for organisations to help diversify their businesses and introduce more women into what was once a male dominated workforce. Now I’m not talking about jobs like sales such as estate agents or car salesman but more directly the skilled sectors such as engineering and construction. A typical stereotype is those working on building sites or within factories, commonly landscaped with grease or cement covered males showing off their masculinity and whistling to the young lady walking down the street.
Well as we all know times have changed and an ever increasing number of women are entering into the construction world and also becoming skilled in many different sectors such as plumbing, electrical or even brick laying. Apprenticeships now offer women the opportunity to learn on the job skills within all sectors and they shouldn’t feel out of place due to the common stereotypes and judgemental thoughts by others…
A lot of people may forget who kept this country running while our troops were at war, below is just an example of typical job roles managed by women during the war:
- Tank Drivers
- Building Ships
- Working in factories - making bombs and aircraft parts
- Air raid wardens
- Driving fire engines
- Ambulance drivers
- WRVS volunteers
As more and more women take up apprenticeships the skills gap between male and females will have shrunk and then justifiably the pay gap should then be more in line with each other.
I for one am an advocate for more women in apprenticeships, not enough women sit on boards of directors in FTSE 100 companies, and it has been suggested that by 2020 the number needs to increase to 20% but even that sounds minor to me.