A survey of more than 2000 young professionals (aged 18 – 31) showed that a third of the men were encouraged to take an apprenticeship in school compared to just 17% of women, suggesting that girls are still being held back by stereotypical perceptions of the ‘right’ career path for them.
This is interesting because it supports the view that there is more that can be done to improve the careers advice given in schools, particularly where this concerns apprenticeships and fails to put the spotlight on these as attractive alternatives to expensive University education.
Apprenticeships allow students to earn whilst learning and whilst gaining a valuable qualification towards their future career.
This week is National Apprenticeship Week #NAW2014 and I attended a Learners Day on Monday to see a programme likely to change these perceptions in future as organised by Raytheon Professional Services in Nottingham.
During the course of the day I saw pre GCSE female students from Witton Park comprehensive school in Blackburn changing their minds about a career in the motor industry after as little as 5 hours. It took a carefully crafted, cleverly targeted and relevant careers programme to do this of course.
Particular highlights for me included the students using the latest Vauxhall diagnostic equipment (making car washers, wipers and horns work remotely) plus informative sessions from Pendragon’s Charlotte Potter and The IMI’s Emily Hakansson.
Both Charlotte and Emily focused on the fantastic range of motor industry careers that are equally available and rewarding for females as they are for males.
From an initial 2 students expressing a halfhearted interest in motor industry careers, a lively five hour programme quickly transformed this into an enthusiastic and committed total of six likely motor industry ambassadors.
Yes the sample is too small to be statistically meaningful but bearing in mind this was the transformation within a group of just 11 girls, it’s not hard to see the potential multiplier effect when a similar programme is rolled out elsewhere.
Furthermore it may demonstrate a lack of understanding that many of today’s school pupils have about apprenticeships for the reason that few teachers have any real work experience outside education, suggested by Business Secretary Vince Cable MP today.
All this points to the power of and the need for more effective marketing communications in this area. Sadly all this costs money but someone clearly needs to educate teachers to do a better job here. This is surely a missing link in their education process? Perhaps the Business Secretary should talk to the Education Secretary about ways they both can make things better here?
We surely need everyone on the same side here to benefit the UK economy? And to make sure that our pupils know ALL their career options at as early a stage as possible.
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