Could pre-apprenticeships overcome gender divide?

Birmingham-based multi-disciplinary engineering solutions company, adi Group is aiming to bridge industry’s gender divide by launching the UK’s first pre-apprenticeship scheme for 14-16 year olds.

By introducing young women to the world of engineering at an early age through pre-apprenticeships, it’s hoped that more of them will choose to enter a career in the industry after they’ve completed their studies.

Women in Manufacturing - Infographic April 2016 CCurrently just 9% of the engineers in the UK are women, and more than 60% of 11-21 year-old girls reportedly believing engineering and technology is just for boys.

These skewed perceptions of engineering could be the reason why young women aren’t considering a career in engineering and contributing to a widening skills gap.

The scheme, run in partnership with a local secondary school, involves adi Group engineers teaching core practical skills to 12 pupils (including three girls) in a live workshop for half a day each week.

CEO and founder of adi Group, Alan Lusty explained, “Despite recent figures showing more people are entering apprenticeship schemes than ever before, for every female apprentice working within the UK engineering sector there are 25 male apprentices.

“With apprenticeships being the main route into engineering roles it is hardly surprising that the UK has the lowest proportion of female engineering professionals.

“The rest of the world is continuing to develop and grow its engineering proficiency and this creates more competition than ever before. If the UK is to maintain its lead as a true innovator, then we must work harder.

Women in Manufacturing - Infographic April 2016 DAccording to Lusty, a key part of the solution lies in providing engineering training for young women before they make important career decisions.

He continued: “Our new pre-apprenticeship scheme links together industry and education to show school-age children the benefits of engineering and present it as a viable career option.

“We hope that by taking on a healthy proportion of male and female apprentices each year, we can contribute to closing the skills gap, ensuring that well-trained, dedicated professionals continue to enter the profession.

Lusty urged other businesses to follow adi Group’s example by engaging with young people and encouraging them to consider engineering as an attractive potential career.

He concluded: “We believe our pre-apprenticeship scheme offers a comprehensive model which other schools and employers will be able to replicate.”