Calls for greater efforts to encourage women into engineering apprenticeships

8 March 2018 Lauren Golding

To help better understand and tackle gender disparity in STEM apprenticeships, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation commissioned Learning and Work Institute (L&W) to conduct an analysis of the government’s (SFA) Find an Apprenticeship dataset. Find an Apprenticeship is the official website for searching and applying for apprenticeships in England.

Calls for greater efforts to encourage women into engineering apprenticeships

The Learning and Work (L&W) presented its findings on International Women’s Day in the report, ‘Understanding the under-representation of women in engineering apprenticeships (2018)’. The report reveals that women accounted for just 6.7% of successful applicants for Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies (EMT) apprenticeships in 2015 & Spring 2016.

Gatsby believes that the failure to address the low uptake of female candidates could not only a missed opportunity to address the widespread skills shortage in the Engineering sector, but also to tackle the wider issue of the gender pay gap.

“Although women are under-represented in many STEM areas, it is particularly stark in engineering apprenticeships” said Jenni French, Programme Manager, Gatsby. “Not only does this lead to inequalities in pay but this gender imbalance has significant implications for the supply of skills into the economy.”
Jenni French, Programme Manager, Gatsby

Apprenticeships are vital to address vital skills needs and facilitate social mobility. The report shows that while just over half (52.5%) of those on apprenticeships are women, when analysed on a sector basis, only 3.7% of EMT apprentices are female.

Other significant findings include:

  • Women are much less likely to apply for apprenticeships in the EMT (Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies) sector. Only 3.7% of female applicants applied compared with 34.6 of male applicants and overall women accounted for just 140 (6.7%) of successful EMT applicants.
  • However, when women do apply there is little difference in the success rates for male and female applications to the EMT sector, one of the few where there is no significant difference between the genders.
  • Women who do apply to the EMT sector generally apply to a wider range of sectors that are frequently unrelated to EMT and only 25% of women made further EMT applications if they were unsuccessful, compared with 43% of men. The more concerted focus on the sector by male applicants, and greater persistence when initially unsuccessful – also adds to the lack of female representation in EMT.

To tackle gender parity in EMT apprenticeships, the report recommends that:

  1. More encouragement is given to women and girls to apply in the first instance for apprenticeships in EMT
  2. Effective ways of intervening are explored and piloted so that once an application is in progress female applicants are more likely to stay the course.
  3. The government changes the way it provides data to include more information on the demographic characteristics of candidates and their successful and unsuccessful applications, so that a more detailed analysis can be made


Click here to read the full report


Calls for greater efforts to encourage women into engineering apprenticeships