National Apprenticeship Week & International Women’s Day: The Number of Girls starting Apprenticeships is Falling

  • Last updated 13 Mar 2015

Bad news: the number of girls starting apprenticeships is falling, and has been for the last few years. In light of International Women’s Day last weekend, we took a look at the numbers. 


The number of girls starting apprenticeships has been falling since 2013/14, and is predicted to fall again by the end of this year. They are also less likely to be advised to take up apprenticeships.

From 2007 to 2013, the percentage of girls starting apprenticeships steadily rose, but then began falling, according to figures published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Through our own research here at, our School & College Leaver Careers Market 2014 annual report, shows that young people aren’t necessarily getting the best advice when it comes to apprenticeships: while 80% use their parents to make key career decisions, only 19% of parents want their children to do apprenticeships, and only 13%  

In 2012/13, the number of girls starting apprenticeships outnumbered boys, accounting for 54.7% of those taking up places on schemes. This fell to 52.9% last year 2013/14, and is predicted to dip to under half this year at 47.2%: less than the figure at 2007/08, which was 47.4%.

While this still demonstrates an almost 50/50 gender split over apprenticeship starts, it could be concerning if it becomes a trend and the percentage of girls taking up places falls year on year.

And it’s not just an issue for young women, the trend of underrepresentation spans the generations: despite women now choosing to work in record numbers, they are still underrepresented in many of the UK’s jobs growth areas.

Some of the figures are shocking: only 7% of engineering professionals are women, just 20% of those working in broadcast media (including photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators) are women, and of science, engineering and production technicians only a quarter are female.

Surprisingly, even though these numbers are low, they are a significant improvement on those of just a few years ago, up 10%, 40% and 45% respectively.

Although organisations such as the London Stock Exchange and the Royal Society of Chemistry have recently appointed women to their top jobs after several hundred years of history, the country is still waiting for a number of significant female ‘firsts’ in banking, broadcasting and business.

There are efforts to combat this however. The #notjustforboys campaign was launched earlier this year by the Department for Work and Pensions, and aims to shine a light on this issue and to get more women into work across many of these industries.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “Who would have believed in 2015 we are still seeing ‘female firsts’ – only last year we had the first female to be President of the Royal Society of Chemistry in nearly 200 years of history. We’ve only just had the first female CEO of the London Stock Exchange and we’re still waiting for the ‘first’ in many of the UK’s top jobs at organisations like the Bank of England, the BBC and CBI.

“Through the #notjustforboys campaign we want to energise young girls and support more women to make the choices that are right for them, and have the security of a regular wage in an industry that’s driving Britain’s growth.”

If you’re a girl (or a boy!) looking for an apprenticeship or advice visit our website, and take inspiration from Josie, a girl pursuing a career in engineering via a pretty awesome school leaver programme: go girl!


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