Doing an apprenticeship was considered by similar proportions of non-university-educated male and female 18-30 year olds when they left school. However, among those that did pursue this option, the reasons for doing so often varies by gender. While gaining work experience is the main motivation for both genders, male apprentices are more likely than their female counterparts to reference factors associated with the status of doing an apprenticeship, such as them having a good reputation or being encouraged to by a teacher or careers adviser. Female apprenticeships on the other hand are more likely to refer to the material benefits of doing apprenticeship, such as earning money whilst training or gaining practical rather than academic experience.
Despite this, males are twice as likely as female apprenticeships to say that a reason they picked their particular area of apprenticeship specialism was because they thought that it paid better than other options. Perhaps for this reason (at least in part), male apprentices report being paid around a pound more per hour than female apprentices (£5.85 vs £4.82). The amount of training apprentices report is broadly similar between the genders, as is the age at which they started their apprenticeship.
When it comes to attitudes towards their apprenticeship, the majority of all apprentices rate the training and support they received as good (with employers scoring better than colleges / training providers). However, female apprentices are notably more positive than male ones about their experiences when it comes to a number of other metrics – for example they are more likely to say they are proud to be doing or have done an apprenticeship, more likely to say they would recommend an apprenticeship to a friend and less likely to say it was a waste of time (a statement with which 35% of male apprentices agree).
Despite motivations for doing an apprenticeship being different by gender, this is not the case with reasons for not doing an apprenticeship. The main barriers to entry for both sexes are primarily that many simply did not consider doing an apprenticeship, and then not really knowing much about what apprenticeships involve and other options being thought to be better for their careers. This latter is more to do with other options being considered attractive and good use of time, rather than any negative issue with the reputation of apprenticeships. This suggests that if more young people are to be encouraged to take an apprenticeship, it will be important to focus on how they can deliver as good, or better, benefits and career outcomes as other options.
In terms of what could make apprenticeships more attractive to non-apprentices, opinions again split by gender. Men are more likely than women to mention the chance of better paid job in the future, whole women are more likely to say apprenticeships would be more attractive if they were better paid or if it was flexible so it could be balanced with caring commitment. Generally, throughout the research there is a sense that men are more interested in a bigger pay-off / chance of a good job later down the line, whereas women are more interested the more immediate benefits of improved and more secure aspects to apprenticeship itself, such as better pay, more flexibility and wider choice.