Simon Moffatt

Simon Moffatt

School leavers in Scotland could be missing out on potential apprenticeship opportunities because they mistakenly believe that most jobs available to them are in so called ‘traditional’ gender specific roles, new research by insurer Prudential shows.

The Stirling-based firm’s nationwide study among 16-18 year olds in Scotland found that more than two thirds (68 per cent) believe most apprenticeship opportunities are in sectors characterised by largely male workforces like construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT.

These views are shared by their parents as a third (34 per cent) of parents believe apprenticeship opportunities are more suitable for boys while just seven per cent think they are more suitable for girls. It was found that more than two thirds (67 per cent) would encourage their sons to consider apprenticeships, and more than half would encourage their daughters to do the same. However, many outdated misconceptions persist, according to Prudential’s findings.

Simon Moffatt, human resources director at Prudential’s UK insurance business, said: “No one should miss out on an opportunity to further their career, education or training because of myths and misunderstandings. Clearly more can be done to get the message to students that apprenticeship opportunities now exist across 170 different industries in the UK3 and that there should not be any gender stereotypes when it comes to career choices.”

Each year more than 25,500 people in Scotland become an apprentice, with roles available in more than 80 different types of apprenticeships covering hundreds of jobs across a wide range of industries. In 2016 41 per cent of apprentices in Scotland were female.4

However, the Prudential research shows that students still believe there are more apprenticeships available in typically male oriented jobs (61 per cent) and that most involve manual labour (62 per cent). School leavers also believe that opportunities for women tend to be in sectors like nursing, health and beauty and childcare (55 per cent).

Katie Huttondirector of national training programmes at Skills Development Scotland (SDS), said: “This survey shines a light on a wider societal issue reflected throughout employment and in education but for us there is no such thing as ‘jobs for boys and jobs for girls’ – a notion we are engaging with partners to address through the Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan.

“More than 10,500 young women5 started a Modern Apprenticeship in Scotland last year. There are misconceptions about apprenticeships and outdated perceptions about traditional job roles in the wider labour market that influence people’s employment and educational subject choices.

“This drives much of our work and with new developments such as Foundation and Graduate Level Apprenticeships we aim to challenge traditional stereotypes and provide new and innovative pathways into different, high skilled sectors.

“We will continue to work with partners, teachers, parents and employers, such as Prudential, to dispel myths about gender and apprenticeships.”

Alongside its own apprenticeship programme, Prudential is committed to supporting apprenticeships through its work with schools and SDS centres around the country to encourage young people to consider an apprenticeship as their first stepping stone to a successful career. The Prudential 2017 apprenticeship programme will create opportunities for up to 21 young people who will be paid the National Living Wage is the latest stage of the company’s £4.1 million investment in its scheme over a four-year period.

The Prudential apprenticeship programme goes beyond just offering employment. The aim is to arm young people with the qualifications, knowledge and life skills needed to embark on a successful career in whichever field they choose.

The programme offers placements in a wide range of roles in the company, including within its IT, HR, customer services, operations, sales support, distribution, financial planning and marketing departments. Positions are available in its Stirling and Reading offices.

To date, Prudential has recruited over 199 young people to its high quality, work-based learning programme, which gives all apprentices the opportunity to achieve a recognised vocational qualification as well as gaining important work-based skills. It is based on a 15-month training contract, with all apprentices being paid the National Living Wage.