Government decisions often affect men and women differently.

… This is partly due to their different positions in the home and the labour market.

With a new Welsh Government in place, focus now turns to developing the Programme for Government. It is vital that this is sensitive to gender differences so we can build a Wales where women achieve and prosper.

In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting a number of key policy areas that we believe should be prioritised in the Programme for Government.

We will focus on the way in which gender differences might shape policy and service delivery in these areas.

Apprenticeships are vital to developing a skilled workforce to build a prosperous Wales.

The Welsh Government remain committed to developing a highly skilled workforce to support a prosperous and resilient Wales.

Apprenticeships are a vital part of the education and skills agenda that will deliver this vision.

Encouragingly, in recent years the proportion of girls entering into apprenticeships has increased to be about equal to their male peers.

However, closer inspection reveals that there remain stark differences in the pathways that men and women are choosing.

In Wales between 2011 and 2014 — 21% of all male apprentices were in construction and 18% were in engineering. Meanwhile, 50% of female apprentices were in health and public services.

This issue is reflected at the UK level, where women make up 94% of childcare apprentices but just under 4% of engineering apprentices.

These gender differences result in an apprenticeship pay gap, with male apprentices paid 21% more per hour on average.

Tackling gender imbalances in apprenticeships is an issue firmly on the radar of both Welsh Government and providers. Previous programmes have included a strong focus on addressing inequality.

Work-based learning programmes running in Wales between 2011 and 2014 required providers to have formal policies in place to ensure equal access to opportunities.

They also steered providers to be mindful of gender stereotypes in marketing materials.

An evaluation of these programmes found that all providers were aware of the need to address gender stereotyping.

However the report concluded that there was little evidence of proactive responses or challenging employers.

The new Welsh Government has committed to delivering 100,000 all-age apprenticeships over the course of the next Assembly.

Further statements by the Minister for Skills and Science have outlined how this pledge will be delivered.

This includes a welcome recognition for continued work to address inequality and gender imbalances, and the appointment of a Diversity Champion.

We hope that as this new programme of apprenticeships is developed and delivered, lessons can be learned from previous programmes, so that apprenticeship take-up can become less gendered and more women can take advantage of career paths that offer better pay and progression opportunities.

Some key steps we hope to see are:

  1. Greater availability of data that allows analysis by apprenticeship level, gender and sector so that progress towards addressing gender imbalances can be more easily evaluated.
  2. Utilising new priorities outlined by the Minister to tackle gender stereotypes, for example by running some of the proposed “Have a Go” sessions with a focus on encouraging girls to try non-traditional career options
  3. Further supporting providers and employers to be more proactive in addressing gender stereotyping through the work of the Diversity champion, sharing of best practice and strengthening equality requirements from providers and frameworks

Related.

On Our Radar: Working Women’s Journeys.

Policy: Education and Skills. Briefing Papers and Reports.

Download: Briefing Paper. Apprenticeships that deliver for all.

Figures come from Welsh Government, Evaluation of Work Based learning Programme 2011-2014, and Young Women’s Trust, Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women.