Organisations team together to help mums into work and progress through part-time apprenticeships
Young Women’s Trust, Trust for London, flexibility experts Timewise and the Learning and Work Institute are teaming up to promote part-time apprenticeships that will help people with caring responsibilities get back into work, as well as progress their careers.
While the number of people doing apprenticeships has increased since the introduction of the levy in April, many – particularly women, people with caring responsibilities, people with disabilities and young people leaving the care system – are unable to participate due to their full-time nature.
Over the next few months, the steering group will be working with a wide range of private and public sector employers training providers and learners to better understand the barriers, as well as the solutions, to providing part-time and flexible apprenticeships.
The learnings will be used to develop and test a model that will effectively benefit both businesses that are experiencing skills shortages, as well as help people either back into work or progress their careers on a part time basis, who would otherwise not consider an apprenticeship.
More than half of employers surveyed by YouGov for Young Women’s Trust said they would be willing to employ an apprentice on a part-time basis yet hardly any do – despite many women saying it would be helpful.
The main reasons given for not employing part-time apprentices are that there is not the demand and that it would be too difficult to administer. Yet women say they need flexible hours to balance work with family life. People with disabilities and young people leaving the care system are also underrepresented among apprentices and could benefit hugely from flexible work opportunities.
It can be particularly hard for women trying to enter male-dominated sectors like engineering, IT and construction. Women instead tend to go into lower-paid sectors, such as care and beauty, contributing to an apprentice gen1der pay gap of 21 per cent – or £2,000 a year. They are less likely to receive training during their apprenticeship and less likely to get a job after.
Supporting more women into apprenticeships will also benefit businesses, which are experiencing skills shortages – particularly in areas with few women like construction and engineering.
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said:
“The growing skills shortage in sectors like construction and engineering is all the more reason to support more young women into relevant apprenticeships. But Young Women’s Trust has found that young women across the country are shut out of apprenticeships due to a lack of flexible working. It is shocking that last year, in London, there were no higher level women apprentices in either construction or engineering.
“Supporting young women into these apprenticeships benefits women, businesses and the economy. We need urgent action. Much greater provision of part-time and flexible apprenticeships would help young mothers and carers in particular, who often have to balance care with work.”
Timewise Joint CEO, Emma Stewart MBE, said:
“The lack of a quality part-time and flexible jobs market is one of major barriers for the millions who need to work less than full time in the UK – be it for those entering the market or progressing in work.
“We’re thrilled to be working on this project, as we believe that the availability of part-time and flexible apprenticeships will be crucial for the many who need and want to transition into better jobs. We’re hopeful that through this project solutions will be identified to make this a reality.”
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said:
“The expansion of apprenticeships is welcome, but there is clearly a need for a more flexible approach that can unlock the talents of even more young people and adults. It can’t be right that the current apprenticeship system isn’t equipped to work alongside flexible employment opportunities in the labour market.
“A strong labour market is one where everyone has a fair chance to access a career and progress up the ladder. This important work will bring down some of the barriers faced by under-represented groups at the same time as providing employers with a greater pool of talent.”
Bharat Mehta CBE, Chief Executive at Trust for London, said:
“Research we have funded shows the highest rates of low pay in London are found amongst part-time female workers. Career progression out of low pay for this group is a real problem which has worsened in the past five years. The lack of flexible, part-time apprenticeships that have genuine paths for career progression has contributed to this trend.
We are very pleased to be working on this project and recognise the need for flexible apprenticeships that allow people, particularly women, with caring responsibilities to progress into better and secure work which treats them with decency, respect and pays at least a living wage.”
The research will take place over the summer. Researchers will then look to design a model that works for both employers and workers.