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Two-thirds of school leavers wrongly believe most apprenticeships opportunities are in male-dominated sectors, new research finds

Insurer Prudential warns that misconceptions and stereotyping could lead young people to miss out on valuable opportunities.

More than two-thirds of school leavers in Scotland mistakenly believe that most apprenticeship opportunities are in male-dominated sectors such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture and IT, according to new research.

The nation-wide survey by insurer Prudential found many parents believe likewise, with 34 per cent saying apprenticeships are more suitable for boys. Among those 16 to 18 years old, 68 per cent believe most apprenticeships are in so-called “traditional” gender-specific roles.

Simon Moffatt, human resources director at Prudential's UK insurance business, said many outdated misconceptions continue to persist. Many girls, for example, still feel that the majority of apprenticeships available for women are in fields such as nursing, health, beauty and childcare.

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

Each year more than 25,000 people in Scotland become an apprenticeship, with roles available in more than 80 different types of apprenticeships covering hundreds of jobs across a range of industries. In 2016, 41 per cent of apprentices in Scotland were female.

Katie Hutton, director of national training programmes at Skills Development Scotland , said more than 10,500 young women started a Modern Apprenticeship north of the Border last year. 

“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 the boys and jobs for the girls' – a notion we are engaging with partners to address through the Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan,” Hutton said.

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

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