One of the five overarching objectives of the ‘Action Plan for Apprenticeship 2021-2025’ is "Apprenticeship for All". In other words, ensuring that the profile of the apprenticeship population more closely reflects the profile of the general population. By December 2021, there were a total of 1,535 female apprentices, up from 60 in 2016 and only 665 at the end of 2019. This increase is mainly due to the expansion of apprenticeship into new areas.
Many of these new programmes are in occupations that have greater gender balance in the workplace such as financial services where 52% of participants are female across the four apprenticeships in the sector. Women also feature more strongly in the new apprenticeships in the hospitality, healthcare, property, sales, biopharma and ICT sectors. Whilst it is still too low, it is also important to note that female representation on craft apprenticeship has doubled in the last two and a half years.
On 14th April, I announced a new gender-based bursary for apprenticeship employers. The bursary, which is worth €2,666, is available to employers who employ apprentices on any national apprenticeship programme with greater than 80% representation of a single gender. It is being implemented with effect from 01 January 2022, and covers all new apprentice registrations from that date on eligible national apprenticeship programmes.