The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has officially launched an
investigation into why so few women join Modern Apprenticeship schemes.
Personnel Today revealed in May that the EOC was planning to use its
statutory powers to look at the barriers preventing women from taking up
careers in traditionally male-dominated industries, and vice-versa.
Research shows an enormous difference between the training choices of young
women and men, with 99 per cent of construction apprenticeships and 96 per cent
of engineering apprenticeships taken up by men. Similarly, 97 per cent of
childcare apprentices are women.
The EOC wants to hear about the experiences of staff working in sectors
dominated by the opposite sex. It is seeking the opinions of individuals,
schools and employers, and will focus on Modern Apprenticeships in five
sectors: construction, plumbing, engineering, ICT and childcare.
Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said the investigation had been launched
because current gender segregation is harmful to the UK economy.
"There’s no room for a ‘jobs for the boys’ or ‘jobs for the girls’
mentality in today’s economy. There are severe shortages of skilled staff in
all the sectors we are focusing on, which is hardly surprising if the pool they
are drawing from only includes half the population," she said.
The investigation will see two pieces of research completed between now and
December, with a statistical overview of segregation, skills and pay gaps, and
a survey of all 47 Learning and Skills Councils – the bodies that fund Modern
Throughout 2004, the EOC will look at current initiatives trying to
challenge stereotypical app-renticeship choices, and will carry out research
with young people, employers and trainers.