The little black dress of the employment world, Apprenticeships and on-the-job training have always been a staple option for young school or college leavers. Potentially netting a final salary of £24,000 upwards, an income whilst learning key practical knowledge, and the opportunity to avoid student debt, the appeal of apprenticeships is clear – yet surprisingly, the numbers of young women choosing to take up apprenticeship placements remains low.

Attempts to rectify the gender gap have been many, with grants and other incentives being offered to encourage businesses to take on more female apprentices in the past, yet we are still in a place where the number of male apprentices greatly overtake their female counterparts.

Tracey Marson-Holland, Director at Staffordshire based Apprenticeship provider Martec Training & Education and advocate for more female apprentices, believes that an overhaul of the perception of apprenticeships needs to happen in order to increase the participation of young women. Tracey comments:

“In my experience, when you say ‘Apprenticeship’ many people immediately think of more masculine job roles that requires rolling-up the sleeves and getting involved in more physical, hands-on work. Although not necessarily a turn-off for many girls, it is an association that doesn’t appeal to some. Furthermore, you also have the stigma of the apprenticeship route, whereby people assume that only those that can’t achieve academic success take this less conventional pathway to employment. Of course, both scenarios are incorrect. In my opinion it is this image of what an apprenticeship is and what you can achieve with an apprenticeship, that needs to be changed in order for more young women to reap the enormous benefits and opportunities that on-the-job training provides.”



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Compared to going to university, deciding to take an apprenticeship can provide a debt free and direct pathway into the job market. Working with schools and colleges, many apprenticeship providers will work with the young person and their tutors to create a smoother transition from education and into work than one might experience when leaving university and entering employment.

Offering young men and women an array of training opportunities, the range of businesses opening their doors to apprentices is growing rapidly. Industry giants like Virgin Media, Nike and Rolls-Royce actively seek young apprentices to work across all areas of the organisation, providing great scope to learn and advance quickly within the company.

Gemma Rush, 34 years old and former apprentice with Martec Training & Education, wants to encourage more prospective female apprentices to open their eyes to the opportunities open to them via an apprenticeship:

“Gaining all of the skills and practical experience that I needed to enter the work place, my business administration apprenticeship was without a doubt the best thing that I have done. If I was to advise other women considering an apprenticeship, I would say do it! Don’t be afraid to think what is best for yourself. Initially it may feel unnerving but you need to put this aside to focus on achieving your goals. An apprenticeship is a wonderful chance to study and to meet new people whist getting paid – it really is an opportunity that you shouldn’t miss just because you are a woman.”

Providing big advantages for companies, taking on an apprentice is a way to train a young person from the ground up with the unique skills and attitude needed for a job within that organisation,  generating employees that are immediately productive.  

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