‘Be My Apprentice’ Part of the Relationship with Feminism and Business Series: The Inclusion Clause of Our Company Policy ‘Ensuring More Female Apprentices are involved in Engineering’

Did you know that in the year 2015/16 just over 53% of apprenticeships were granted to females. But why? Why isn’t this higher? This investigation aims to find this out. Despite this figure, the number of female apprentices had been growing year on year. So with this, we set out to investigate what can be done to increase this figure- especially in the engineering and construction industry.

A report in 2016 which can be read here aimed to set out what we wanted to investigate. The root of the problems stems from misconceptions, prejudice and bad practices but the report argues these can be overturned through various activities (including the conference coming in July 2018- more details coming soon!) including inspiring the next generation that engineering really is an excellent opportunity for everyone!


Firstly, I feel the need to step back in time a little. It may be a common misconception that women in the construction industry is a fairly new thing however, it isn’t. Records can be found that go as far back as the 15th century and show that women were contracted as apprentices in all manner of constructional trades from bricklaying to woodwork and everything in between.  So why is there so much of a stigma around it today?

Well for a start, the stigma may goas far back as the 18th century- how crazy is that? Basically, a statute of the early 19th century made it harder for women to join trade unions. Luckily, today as I’ve stated before female apprenticeships are on the rise. But why is this?

‘The consistently higher numbers of women undertaking full-time construction training in colleges in Britain and in other European countries than are found in construction employment indicates that many women do want to work in the industry but fail to obtain entry. By 2005, women represented 3 percent of construction trade trainees, a far higher proportion than for women in construction employment – at about 0.3 percent. Rather than being in apprenticeships, however, the vast majority of these’

However, there is still many obstacles to them joining the industry including inappropriate and poor working and employment conditions, especially long working hours, discriminatory recruitment practices based on word of mouth rather than qualifications, the persistence of a macho culture, and short-term concerns with output. As indicated in our sweep through time, lack of state regulation and of employer responsibility and the very nature of the training system and the labour market have also played important roles.

At Zest and Fresh we aim to fix this with the policies outlined above. We hope this will attract and inspire future generations to continue our ‘Zest Quest’ to ‘be the best,’ in mental health care and construction.

Happy Beautiful day,

Kate Smiles

Caretaker CEO Zest an Fresh Mental Health Serivces

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