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Reform hopes for jobs

Reforms of the 14-19 curriculum in Wales should encourage more young women to enter jobs traditionally seen as being for boys, according to colleges.

TES Cymru reported (June 9) how the gender subject divide - apparent at GCSE and A-level - is even more pronounced in vocational GCSE subjects, with girls making up 95 per cent of entries for health and social care, and boys a similar proportion on engineering and manufacturing courses.

But John Hilton, faculty manager for technology at Barry college, said the Assembly government's learning pathways reforms should help broaden the appeal of courses such as bricklaying and plumbing.

The college is working with the Vale of Glamorgan council on a pilot scheme, offering vocational courses to around 200 teenagers in eight secondary schools. It has been encouraging schools to identify girls for technology courses.

Mr Hilton said: "We have a five-year trend of encouraging participation of females in non-traditional areas. There are difficult barriers to break.

But we have fantastic partnerships."

Girls currently make up 3 per cent of the college's students in technology areas. Staff are trying to increase numbers and are using existing students as ambassadors.

One of those is plumber Becky Bennett, from Barry, who is on an NVQ level 2 plumbing course at the college, and employed by Vale of Glamorgan council.

She dropped out of school at 15 and tried hairdressing. But a Saturday job convinced her she had made the wrong choice.

"I was a bit apprehensive when I went for interview. And on my first day, I didn't know what to expect and how the boys would react," she said. "I've never been in a class with a girl since."

She added: "Plumbing is a good career and you can earn good money. It can get quite gruesome and dirty, but I enjoy it."

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