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Better careers advice needed to encourage young women into apprenticeships, say experts

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Young women are still not encouraged to take up apprenticeships to the same extent as men, according to a report by vocational education provider City & Guilds.

A survey of 2,000 young professionals states that 23% of women were advised about apprenticeships, compared to 32% of men. Programmes in engineering and IT are particularly closed to women, the research suggests.

This has led to a lack of female talent throughout these areas, according to Jim Carrick-Birtwell, CEO of Plotr, a not-for-profit that provides careers inspiration for 11 to 24-year-olds.

"There is a clear problem attracting girls and women into STEM-related jobs and careers; the bare facts are pretty eloquent as only 17% of the UK technology workforce is female," he said.

"The key to success is to make sure young people are made aware of the opportunities so they see these as a real possibility, particularly women in traditionally male-dominated trade environments."

Former apprentice Tiana Locker, who is now apprentice connect ambassador at City & Guilds, is not surprised by the results.

"This research really resonates with my own experiences. At school, I was actively dissuaded from taking an apprenticeship and pushed towards university to study teaching," she said.

"I would have benefited from more comprehensive careers advice during school, as in my experience they tended to fall back on outdated stereotypes. It’s definitely important that girls and boys understand the full range of career opportunities available to them."

Julia Edmonds, managing director at Lexington Catering, runs a successful scheme at her company. She told HR magazine that strong role-models in an industry are crucial to get young women interested in the schemes.

"We find that our springboard ambassadors are invaluable in getting others interested in the apprenticeships. These are young people who go to events such as career fairs. We have had a lot of success attracting young women, but we are lucky that we have strong female role-models in the sector," she said.