The gendered nature of apprenticeship: employers’ and young people's perspectives (in special issue on apprenticeship)

Fuller, Alison, Beck, Vanessa and Unwin, Lorna (2005) The gendered nature of apprenticeship: employers’ and young people's perspectives (in special issue on apprenticeship). Education and Training, 47, (4/5), 298-311. (doi:10.1108/00400910510601887).


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Gender segregation has been a persistent feature of apprenticeship programmes in countries around the world. In the UK, the Modern Apprenticeship was launched ten years ago as the government’s flagship initiative for training new entrants in a range of occupational sectors. One of its priorities was to increase male and female participation in ‘non-traditional’ occupations, that is, those normally practiced by just one sex. However, recent figures show that the programme has failed to achieve its aim and this has prompted an investigation by the Equal Opportunities Commission. The research reported in this paper is part of this investigation.

This paper presents quantitative and qualitative evidence on the attitudes of young people (aged 14 and 15) and employers to non-traditional occupational choices. It also explores the factors affecting the decisions of young people to train in a non-traditional occupation and the recruitment decisions of employers from ‘traditional sectors’, such as engineering, the construction trades and childcare.

The research provides evidence of the deeply entrenched nature of occupational stereotypes and the psychological and social barriers that have to be overcome if a more evenly balanced workforce is to be created. It also reveals that none of the institutions and organisations which act as gatekeepers between young people and employers is, as yet, taking responsibility for challenging their perceptions and decision-making processes.

Policy implications
The paper concludes by highlighting the implications of the research findings stakeholders and suggesting an holistic approach to tackling gender segregation.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1108/00400910510601887
Additional Information: Special issue edited by Erica Smith and Vikki Smith
ISSNs: 0040-0912 (print)
Related URLs:
Keywords: gender, apprenticeship, occupational stereotypes, employers, young people
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Education > Lifelong and Work-Related Learning
ePrint ID: 21028
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2006
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 11:38

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