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FE sector needs diversity commission to end 'male and female' jobs, says IfL

The FE and skills sector should have an independent commission to look at improving the diversity of staff working in teaching and training, according to the Institute for Learning (IfL).

Chief executive Toni Fazaeli said FE teachers and trainers were “crucial” role models for learners, and greater diversity in the profession can play a vital role in encouraging young people to consider subjects they may regard as being too "male or female".

According to the IFL’s data for the last three years, the teaching and training profession across the FE and skills sector in England is predominantly female (62 per cent).

Female teachers are more heavily concentrated in adult and community learning and the voluntary sector, and less so in sixth-form colleges.

Men are more concentrated in the armed forces, the only part of the sector where male teachers and trainers are the majority, and to a lesser extent in prisons and work-based learning.

The uptake of apprenticeships also mirrors the patterns of female and male teachers and trainers across vocational areas and subjects.

There are more female teachers in subjects including languages, health studies, administration, animal care and literacy. Male teachers prevail in areas including construction, motor vehicle studies, electrical installation, mechanical engineering, plumbing and gas, and engineering.

Recent research from vocational body City & Guilds found that men are twice as likely to be encouraged to take an apprenticeship as women.

A survey of more than 2,000 young professionals showed that a third of men were encouraged to take an apprenticeship in school, compared to just 17 per cent of women.

Chris Jones, chief executive of City & Guilds, said: “With skills gaps blighting so many industries in the UK, alongside stubbornly high levels of youth unemployment, we should be worried if industries, or indeed different training programmes, are regarded as ‘male’ or ‘female’.

“This needs to change. Young people need to know about all of the career opportunities available, so that no career is closed off to them.”

Toni Fazaeli said: “It is clear that the time is right for a new diversity commission for teaching and training staff across further education and skills in order to help drive change.

“More diversity in the teaching and training profession will help open young people’s minds to the career options available, so that more young women are encouraged to take up apprenticeships in engineering, construction and IT, for example, and that careers in social care and hairdressing are perceived as perfectly comfortable choices for young men.”

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