McLaughlin say more needs to be done to tackle apprenticeship gender gap

SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said that there is more work to do to tackle the disparity in the number of young men and young women enrolled in apprenticeships.

SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin
SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin

The Foyle MLA’s call follows a response to an Assembly Written Question, tabled by Ms. McLaughlin, which shows a significant majority of apprenticeships are undertaken by males compared to females.

As of October 2021, 7970 males were enrolled in a Level 2-3 apprenticeship across all Council areas, compared to 2209 females, while for Level 4-5 apprenticeships, more than twice as many males were enrolled compared to females in the academic year 2020/21.

The figures also suggest employment sectors are still segregated by gender at apprenticeship level.

For example, at Level 4-5 in Derry City and Strabane, 22 males were enrolled in apprenticeship programmes in the information and communication technology sector, compared to just two females, while nine females were enrolled in apprenticeships related to the health, public services and care sector compared to zero males.

The Foyle MLA said: “Apprenticeships allow thousands of our young people every year to develop key skills, gain experience and open the door to full-time employment.

“However, these statistics place in stark relief the huge difference between the number of men and women undertaking apprenticeships, particularly in fields such as science and technology that are perceived as traditionally more male-dominated and are also typically more highly paid.

“The Department for the Economy must do everything in its power to ensure that apprenticeships in all sectors are fully accessible to everyone in our society, including through formulating a plan to break down the stereotypes around certain sectors that reinforce gendered segregation in employment.

“No barriers should exist for any of our young people and our apprenticeship policy should prioritise ensuring that we address this gender imbalance.”