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A co-ordinated approach to recruiting women onto STEM apprenticeships

In 2011, Derwent Training, based in rural North Yorkshire, realised that to grow, one strategy would be to target females for apprenticeships, effectively doubling our target talent pool. Employers have been very supportive, recognising that women do not only out perform academically when in training but they also see an increase in performance in the workplace. One employer challenge, albeit nice to have, is that the women are promoted quickly following their apprenticeship and so are not visible to the next cohort on the work-floor.

What we did.

  • Targeting a more varied demographic meant that we had to update our marketing to reduce gender bias.
  • We use female role models from the apprenticeship programmes heavily in schools, and the (often award winning) role models have produced videos and spoken on local radio.
  • Visits to our training centre prior to and during the application process are key. By highlighting equal facilities, PPE and training environments, girls are not threatened by a male dominated environment and see first hand that there is a gender mix in every classroom.
  • Working with local employers, we ensure that prospective applicants also visit the workplace and learn that manufacturing and engineering is not the dirty and gender biased environment of the past.

Derwent Training shares best practice within the Group Training Associates for England, working to support other providers to recruit women into engineering and manufacturing apprenticeships. This works both ways, with Derwent Training adopting the approach of more comprehensive and practical ‘taster days’ in their training facility where the visitors leave having created something on site.

What we learned.

Taking these steps means that Derwent Training have;

  • more than doubled the number of engineering based apprentices trained each year since 2011, going from 90 to 190. More significantly, starting from zero, they now have 11% female participation on their advanced apprenticeships and 30% in their higher apprenticeship schemes. In an area with high unemployment and a low history of engineering, with careers focussing on traditional farming, land management, forestry and game management, this is a notable step forward.
  • Local employers and Derwent Training have found that female apprentices are highly successful through their quality of applications – close to 100% (all bar 1) of the 2016 female applicants found apprenticeships compared to only 30% of the men.

To find out more about Derwent Training, please go to

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