Bringing more women and girls into STEM is a long term programme – but there is a worry that some apprenticeships don’t have a job at the end of training. This can be a particular issue for women looking for a career in traditionally male dominated sectors. This section will help you put in place measures to improve success rates of women finding a job at the end of their training.
Trained apprentices are extremely valuable to an organisation and women with engineering, construction, manufacturing or technology qualifications are in high demand. To retain these women within your organisation (having invested in their training), make sure what you offer measures up to the competition. It isn’t always about money – flexible working, personal development, job purpose and a supportive culture are all reasons for women to stay with you.
For colleges and training providers, it is important to build relations with local employers who want to recruit your female apprentices – many are actively looking but need the extra support and advice that a training provider can give. Consider who you will recruit from your programmes early – female apprentices can be a great sales tool for you with larger employers.
Support progression and career development from day one
- Regularly review progress with your apprentices, including conversations about “next steps”.
- Set in place interventions and support to ensure progression. WISE can help you with this - we offer workshops including an introduction to the Ten Steps, mentoring and ongoing development of your graduating apprentices.
- For women who progress from their apprenticeship, encourage and support them in the next steps of their professional journey. This might be associate, affiliate or chartership via a professional association. Women might need encouragement to undertake professional qualifications and should be given enough time to complete CPD activities.
- If you're an employer, make sure job specifications and adverts for entry level posts across your organisation appeal to female applicants. Our hints and tips for job specifications can help. This will better support your apprentices to transition into the workforce.
If you cannot offer work at the end of the apprenticeship
In the unlikely event that you are unable to offer your apprentice permanent employment because a position is not available, ensure the investment you have made in training them is not wasted.
- Communicate that you will not be offering permanent employment as early as possible to the apprentice and their training provider.
- Be proactive with your partners and suppliers to see if there is a role that would suit your apprentice elsewhere, or consider whether progression to a higher or degree apprenticeship might be an alternative to employment for high achieving apprentices.
- Use your networks to encourage them and give them confidence that employment is available and achievable.
- Provide support to help them find and apply for alternative employment.
If you are a training provider or college:
- Support learners by sharing details of companies in the appropriate sectors, so that learners can send CV’s to them.
- Signpost your employer networks to a ‘Talent Pool’ of learners who have progressed well.
- Encourage employer contacts who may need trained staff in the future to interview learners whilst they are still on their apprenticeship programme, with a view to offering them a job at the end. This can be especially useful for SMEs who are looking for fully trained staff.
- If you have talented apprentices who have not been offered roles at the end of their training WISE, Semta and ICE can put you in touch with employers who are actively looking for female applicants in STEM roles - get in touch to find out more.
If your apprentice has not 'made the grade'
- Support them to look at alternative ways to make the grade. To complete an apprenticeship the learner needs to have been assessed for competency. Training providers could offer them work experience in their STEM departments during the summer break to allow for this. For example, a Laboratory Technician apprenticeship learner might support the work in the college labs.
- Help them to consider what skills they have achieved and what their employment potential is.
- Within your own company or through your networks identify alternative roles that will make use of their skills and value your investment in them.
Show your female employees that you value their contribution to your organisation
- Employees who feel valued are most likely to stay with an organisation and work to their best. Although women are often less concerned about maximising their salary they still expect to be treated fairly when it comes to their salary so parity of pay and of opportunities, and being transparent about salaries is critical.
- Show your employees that you value gender diversity, invest in tools such as the WISE Ten Steps which help address culture change within your organisation to make a long term difference.
- Why not nominate your scheme or one of your female employees for an award? Lots of recognition and award schemes are in existence. Why not start with the WISE Awards or Semta Apprenticeship Awards.
- Or consider industry specific schemes and awards such as the Institute of Civil Engineers President's Apprentice Scheme or the BCS IT Apprentice of the Year Award.