'No target' to address gender disparity through apprenticeships, DfE reveals

Attracting more women to sectors in which they are underrepresented is not a goal for the apprenticeship programme, a government official has confirmed

Will Martin

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The government has not set any targets for improving gender diversity within apprenticeships, according to the Department for Education.

Unlike targets for raising participation for black and minority ethnic learners, improving gender diversity within the apprenticeship programme is not "a target" for government, according to Jonathan Slater, permanent secretary for the DfE.

In the Commons Public Accounts Select Committee's inquiry into apprenticeships at Parliament today, Labour MP Caroline Flint said that "diversity between men and women isn't being given any attention", and asked why there wasn't a push to encourage employers to seek out women to fill traditionally male jobs.

'Huge job segregation'

Ms Flint added: "We welcome the opportunity to encourage more people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds into apprenticeships. Why is it that looking at the diversity within sectors between men and women isn’t given some attention? Because we know there is huge job segregation in our country and often women ending up in jobs that are traditionally low pay…Why isn’t there more of a push to encourage those providing apprenticeships to seek out women to fill those jobs? And vice versa, maybe, for some of the men to go into the more female-dominated sectors?"

In response, Mr Slater said the Department had "not been set any targets” to address this.

Ms Flint replied that, without improiving the gender balance in sectors such as energy and infrastructure, "we are not going to fill the [skills] shortages".

According to David Hill, director of apprenticeships at the DfE, who was also at the committee hearing, 53 per cent of apprentices are women.

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Will Martin

Will is a junior reporter at TES

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