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STEM Subjects: Apprentices

Question for Department for Education

UIN 136950, tabled on 23 April 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to improve the gender balance in the take-up of STEM apprenticeships.

Answered on

26 April 2018

As apprenticeships and skills are devolved matters, statistics provided are for England only. Women have accounted for over half of apprenticeship starts in recent years (53.4 per cent in 2016/17, 52.8 per cent in 2015/16, 53.0 per cent in 2014/15).

The number of starts in STEM apprenticeships (both male and female) has grown from 95,000 in 2012/13 to 112,000 in 2016/17, when they accounted for 22.6% of all starts. The proportion of STEM apprenticeship starts by female learners was 7.7% in 2014/15, 8.3% in 2015/16 and 8.2% in 2016/17.

We are taking action to address gender disparities in the take up of STEM-related apprenticeships through a range of activities. These include taking part in the Year of Engineering 2018 and use of the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s (ESFA) Apprenticeship Diversity Champions Network (ADCN). We have also made it easier for part-time workers to undertake apprenticeships, such as those with caring responsibilities and lone parents.

Since being established last year, the ADCN has advocated activity around championing women in STEM apprenticeships to address this issue, including developing best practice to share across employers.

We are also taking action in regard to employers and career advice. Working with employers, we are taking action to help inform the decisions girls make about their future education and career choices. We are undertaking work to assess the breadth and effectiveness of current careers provision in schools and colleges on STEM, and evaluating approaches to careers provision to encourage girls to consider jobs in STEM industries. Finally, we are involved with wider government work such as Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s STEM Ambassador programme.

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