The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has launched a formal investigation into occupational segregation in the Modern Apprenticeship system.
The organisation is using its statutory powers to look at the barriers preventing women taking up careers in traditionally male dominated industries and vice versa.
Research shows an enormous difference between the choices of young people with 99 per cent of construction apprentices and 96 per cent of engineering apprentices currently being male.
By the same token, 97 per cent of childcare apprentices are women and the EOC wants to hear about the experiences of employees working in sectors dominated by the opposite sex.
The body is seeking the opinions of individuals, schools and employers and will focus on Modern Apprenticeships in five sectors: construction, plumbing, engineering, technology and childcare.
It will also explore the relationship between gender segregation in training and at work as well as the issue of skills and pay gaps in the UK.
The investigation will conduct two pieces of research between now and December:
- A statistical overview of occupational segregation, skills gaps and pay gaps
- A survey of all 47 Learning and Skills Councils - the funding organisations for Modern Apprenticeships - to identify how choice and equality are promoted by the system, including rates of pay.
Throughout 2004 it will look at the current initiatives to challenge stereotyped choices and carry out a range qualitative research with young people, employers and training providers.