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Implement good practice initiatives to develop an inclusive training environment

Women represent a valuable pool of untapped talent, diverse skills and future success for your organisation. Once they have overcome all the barriers and joined your organisation, providing a welcoming and supportive environment will ensure they achieve their full potential and maximise your investment in them.

This checklist will help you to develop such an environment.

First impressions count.

  • Provide advance information and a personal contact. Respond quickly and positively to queries.
  • Offer the apprentice an opportunity to informally meet colleagues, trainers and visit the workplace in advance of the start can ensure that the apprentice turns up on the day.
  • Deliver a comprehensive induction that covers not only practical aspects of the role but also any concerns with regard to confidence or isolation.
  • Have your apprentice involved in the work environment before they start their training course, especially if they are out of the office for multiple-week periods.
  • Provide opportunity for the apprentice to discuss how they are getting on and offer opportunities for them to raise concerns on a regular basis, for example end of day 1, end of week 1, weekly or every 4 weeks. Build a rapport so they are confident to raise issues, and ensure that you deal promptly with any concerns.
  • Provide PPE that fits! How you look affects how you feel and PPE is available in all shapes and sizes.
  • Discuss travel arrangements and any additional costs associated with working.
  • Provide a contact person for the apprentice to go to with concerns with appropriate confidentiality agreement.
  • Ensure there are posters and promotional materials in place in the training area and around the organisation showing positive role models of women in non-traditional roles.

Identify any particular needs with each apprentice, for example, learning support, disabilities (particularly hidden), confidence issues, lack of prior learning.

Ensure that you and your training provider put support in place and review progress regularly. Needs can change over time in the workplace, or the classroom, or to both.

Consider the workplace from the point of view of the apprentice. Carry out an assessment and monitor it regularly – both practical aspects, and more subtle such as language, images, banter.

  • Do you have female toilets in the work location (not up in the office area)?
  • Are there suitable changing facilities and lockers for female apprentices? Are they near to the work place?
  • Are staff aware what is acceptable in terms of language and humour (not because women are present but as a professional standard for ALL colleagues).
  • Do you use gender neutral language in all areas of your organisation?
  • Consider including consciousness raising activities around bullying and harassment as part of induction and ongoing – for all staff.
  • Do work with your training provider or college to ensure that similar standards apply to any training location.

If you are an employer, ensure that a similar review takes place with your training provider/college, who are made aware of your expectations to ensure that standards are the same in ALL areas of an apprentices training.

One size does not fit all and using a range of different learning styles and assessment methods will allow ALL participants to maximise their learning and participation.

  • Monitor apprentices to check they are all progressing at the expected rate and achieving the milestones
  • Make use of a range of assessment procedures to allow apprentices ways to show what they have achieved in a way that best suits them (verbal, written, log or diary, showing others)
  • Monitor engagement and satisfaction alongside achievement
  • Contextualise learning. Research shows that women learn better when theoretical principles and tasks are contextualised. Give them the bigger picture, explain why you are doing this and what the benefits and outcomes will be
  • Make use of problem based learning through “real world” problems. This type of learning has proven to be particularly effective with women
  • Consider ways to incorporate collaborative working – small discussion groups, team projects. Research indicates women prefer cooperative and collaborative ways of working, and employers often comment that this is an ability lacking in many trainees and employees
  • Provide opportunity for self-assessment, reflection, and feedback.

The WISE People Like Me report and resources offer guidance on language, images and techniques to engage women with STEM education and training.

Clear policies on equal opportunities, bullying and harassment should be in place and ALL staff members be trained in these. Regular monitoring should be in place.

  • These policies are discussed as part of induction and all apprentices are made aware of how they can expect to be treated and what to do if they have concerns.
  • Reinforce that they will be supported in the ‘unlikely’ event that there is a breach of policy.
  • Remind all apprentices that they are expected to comply with these policies and help develop a culture of respect.
Specific diversity issues should be anticipated and action taken to minimise risk and put support in place, for example, provision of changing and toilet facilities for women on site. You may need to consider childcare issues when asking female apprentices (in particular) to work away from home or to work extended or anti-social hours; you may decide to consider flexible working opportunities.
Next Checklist: Empower your colleagues to help create an inclusive training environment

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