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Gender Divide Impact on Skills Shortages


Gender divisions in apprenticeships are contributing to the UK's skills shortages, according to a report by the Equal Opportunities Commission.

It said that Modern Apprenticeships were not opening up enough opportunities for young women and men in non-traditional job areas.

Skills shortages in sectors that have traditionally employed mainly men, such as engineering and construction, could be solved by recruiting more women, the EOC said.

It wants the government to tackle the issue as a matter of urgency.

A survey of 1,000 people, carried out for the commission, found that 54% of women and 47% of men thought the advice they were given on leaving school was influenced by their sex.

Two-thirds of women surveyed aged 16 to 24 said they would have considered a wider range of career options had they been aware of differences in pay rates for jobs usually done by women and those usually done by men.

The commission's chair, Julie Mellor, said: "A hundred years ago it was unusual for a woman to be a doctor or a lawyer, or for a man to be a nurse, but now it's commonplace.

"Yet our investigation shows that there are still real barriers preventing young women from choosing jobs in areas traditionally regarded as suitable only for men, like construction, plumbing and engineering.

"This is bad for individuals, who can lose out on pay and work that best suits them.

"It's also bad for employers, who lose out on talent and skills, and for the economy as a whole, which is being damaged by skills shortages."

Figures for 2002-3 indicate that in engineering, 6% of those taking Foundation Modern Apprenticeships were women, and 8% of those working in engineering jobs were women.

In construction, only 1% of the foundation courses were being taken by women - who make up 1% of those working in the industry.


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