Gender segregation within Scotland’s flagship Modern Apprenticeships (MA) programme is increasing, new figures reveal.
Out of the 50 MA roles analysed by Scottish Labour, women made up less than quarter of apprentices for 23 in 2016, including for roles in sectors such as construction, engineering and agriculture.
In 14 of the roles the proportion of women had dropped or remained the same.
Shockingly, no new female apprentices began work in the specialist construction, land-based engineering, gas or timber sectors, during 2016.
The research also discovered that in six of the 50 apprentice roles – including social services, care and hairdressing – less than 25 percent of apprentices were men.
The news comes after the Apprenticeships Pay Survey revealed shocking rates of pay for many apprentices.
The survey found that 14 percent of apprentices receive less than £5.55 an hour, while 2.2 percent are paid an hourly rate of less than £2.67.
Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty described the levels of gender segregation as “shocking” and said the current apprenticeship system “exploits young people and disadvantages women in particular”.
Rafferty called on the Scottish government to make better use of procurement and public sector powers to ensure higher apprenticeship standards.
“The Scottish government should stop talking about delivering a world beating apprenticeship system and actually get on with taking proactive measures to enforce age and gender equality,” he said.
Labour’s Scottish shadow education minister, Daniel Johnson, said the SNP had “failed to deliver” on pledges to tackle gender segregation in apprenticeships, which he said has led to lower pay and fewer career opportunities for women.
“Apprenticeships are a great way into work for young people but in the 21st century they shouldn’t be pigeonholed into particular roles because of their gender,” Johnson said.
“But in the majority of the already segregated areas of the workforce, there has been no progress.
“We need to see urgent action to ensure apprentices are getting the roles they want and deserve.”