Barbara has urged the Government to close the skills gap between women and men.
Barbara is concerned that young women are being given limited career options, with a large proportion choosing traditional jobs such as hairdressing and childcare while very few pursuing engineering or construction trades. She has raised the issue with Ministers before, and used a question session in the House of Commons to emphasise her point.
“Apprenticeships are a key option for young people, but there is evidence of considerable gender bias. The male options that are taken up tend to be better paid and lead to higher qualifications. In fact, in Salford, Connexions found that 100% of young women took health and childcare, but skilled construction apprenticeships were 100% male, so that bias is evident locally. What initiatives or extra steps can be taken to tackle that considerable bias in apprenticeships?”
Children, Schools and Families Minister Ed Balls agreed that the gender bias had to be reversed, and outlined the Government’s plans to ensure that all young people have equal access to training across a variety of career options.
“My Honourable Friend is quite right on that point. Across the country, 99% of apprenticeships in construction are taken by men, and in engineering, the figure is 97%. In child care, however, the number of apprenticeships taken by women is 97%, and in hair and beauty it is 91%. The new national apprenticeship service must make a priority not only of expanding the number of apprenticeships but of ensuring that they are available to both men and women. Through taster courses, better advice and guidance, we must make sure that the opportunities that we are expanding are available to men and women across the widest range of careers.”