Currently there is a population of 376 female apprentices, more than double the 2017 figure of 151 and a substantial increase on the 2016 figure of 60.
It is acknowledged that the number of women employed in craft apprenticeships is low, reflecting the traditional low levels of overall female employment in the craft sectors. To address this, SOLAS offers a bursary to employers in these trades to encourage them to employ female apprentices.
In recent years there has been a welcome increase in the number of women participating in apprenticeships overall, mainly because of the expansion of apprenticeship into new areas. Many of our new programmes are in occupations that have greater gender balance in the workplace, such as financial services and auctioneering.
While the increase in the number of female apprentices is welcome, it is also important to address issues influencing the low level of recruitment of women in the craft sectors. SOLAS has completed a review on the pathways to participation in apprenticeship for underrepresented groups, including women. Areas highlighted for action include setting targets for female participation, considering extending the bursary to other apprenticeships which have less than 20% female participation and a specific focus on female participation as part of the Generation Apprenticeship promotional campaign. Action on these areas will be progressed this year.
Women feature prominently in all aspects of the Generation Apprenticeship campaign, where there is a specific focus on encouraging women and girls to consider apprenticeship as a means of launching or developing their careers. In addition, the recently published review of career guidance encourages the consideration of apprenticeship options by all second level students regardless of gender.