Lack of part-time apprenticeships reduces access for women

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A shortage of flexible and part-time apprenticeship programmes mean that people who are unable to work full time are missing out on training opportunities, according to a report.

Only one in 10 apprentices are contracted to work for less than 30 hours a week, according to a report published today by the Young Women’s Trust, the Trust for London, Timewise and the Learning and Work Institute, meaning many people took up low-skilled work instead.

It said the lack of part-time apprenticeships left many people – particularly women, disabled people, people with caring responsibilities and young people leaving the care system – unable to train or find work at all.

The report found that a scarcity of flexible and part-time apprenticeships in sectors like engineering, IT and construction meant that women often opted for apprenticeships in lower-paid sectors such as social care and beauty.

The authors said this contributed to an apprentice gender pay gap of 8%.

A YouGov poll commissioned by the Young Women’s Trust discovered that 54% of employers would be willing to offer part-time apprenticeships, including 65% of employers in the public sector.

Emma Stewart, joint CEO at Timewise, said: “Transform how apprenticeships are designed, and there is real potential to unlock access to skills, better pay and career progression for the millions who need to fit both earning and learning with other life needs.

“And for employers, opening up more part-time and flexible apprenticeships will also help create more diverse workplaces, reduce gender inequalities and tackle skills shortages.”

Following a decline in apprenticeship starts in the first quarter of the academic year, a separate report published by BBP Professional Education found that three quarters of employers planned to spend most of their levy-funded training budget by 2021 – four years after the apprenticeship levy began.

However, 76% of the 83 employers surveyed by BBP said they wanted more flexibility with how they spent the levy. Almost a third want to take advantage of the ability to transfer 10% of their apprenticeship fund to other businesses from April 2018.

Despite the suggestion that many employers plan to simply write the levy off as a tax, BBP’s research – The apprenticeship levy: employers views 12 months on – report claimed that 92% of employers planned to use at least some of the money available to fund apprenticeship programmes.

Emma O’Dell, deputy executive apprenticeship director at BBP Professional Education, said: “Many employers rightly see talent recruitment, development and retention as a long-term proposition. Consequently, levy funds will be spent gradually in line with workforce planning rather than quickly to comply with financial imperatives.”

More than a third (34%) planned to exclusively recruit apprentices from outside of their organisation. The same proportion planned to fill most of their apprenticeship places with internal candidates.

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