The Bristol South MP tabled Parliamentary questions to Education Ministers to assess the scale of the challenge facing young women in her constituency who want access to these apprenticeships, which tend to lead to careers with higher salaries.
“Answers provided by Skills Minister Robert Halfon make it clear that whilst Bristol South has a huge gap between apprenticeship opportunities taken up by men and women, the government has no strategy to address it,” says the Labour MP.
Large numbers of south Bristol’s young people are in further education and on apprenticeships, but 80 per cent of apprentices in Karin Smyth’s constituency are working in just three employment ‘frameworks’: retail; health and social care; and business administration – and these apprenticeships tend to lead to careers with lower wages.
“We need more in Construction, Engineering and IT – pathways which offer better salary prospects and more secure employment,” Karin Smyth says. “We also need more girls and young women getting involved in these apprenticeships which lead to higher-earning careers.
“There are concerns nationally that women are not breaking in to these potentially more lucrative trades and professions,” she says.
As a member of the Commons Public Accounts Committee Karin Smyth took part in a recent inquiry with discussions about the gender balance of apprentices. She followed this up to see how much of an issue it is in her own constituency.
“My research highlighted some stark differences between paths taken by young men and young women. I asked Government Ministers about the take-up of apprenticeships in the last five years in Bristol South and was told that whilst 320 males had begun Construction Skills schemes, not a single female had. It was a similar picture with Engineering: 80 men and no women.
“This means female apprentices here in south Bristol are likely to end up in jobs with lower wages and less secure employment than their male counterparts.”
“It can’t be the case that no young women in Bristol South are capable of taking on these apprenticeships so I’ll continue challenging the government,” she added.
Use these links to see the questions posed by Karin Smyth MP, and the answers: