This week marks National Apprenticeship Week but according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of construction apprentices in the country is in decline, despite there being a national need for more construction workers.
In the past five years the total number of UK apprentices has increased by 57%. However, the number opting for construction has plummeted to 15,510 from 20,000 in 2006. Of these 15,510 construction apprentices, just 270 (1.7%) were female.
Now an East London college has bucked this trend. Barking & Dagenham College has seen a massive 404% increase in construction apprentices on the previous year and 4% of them were female. The College has more than double the national average of female construction apprentices, but it’s still a tiny number (9).
Barking & Dagenham College, along with Kath Moore, managing director of Women into Construction, are among a growing body of people who are urging more women to join the construction industry. Kath said: “We have a huge skills shortage in the construction industry and encouraging young women into construction would be an obvious way of addressing this.
“Construction should be sold to girls and young women as an area that they will be welcomed into; they need to know that they won’t have to fight their way in. In order to do that, the industry needs to specifically target young women and make it clear that their job applications are welcome.
“What’s more, it’s potentially well paid and there are great opportunities to progress; there needs to be more education about what working in construction involves and how exciting and varied a career choice it can be.”