The gendered nature of apprenticeship

Alison Fuller, Vanessa Beck, Lorna Unwin
  • Education + Training, May 2005, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/00400910510601887

The gendered nature of apprenticeship

What is it about?

Gender segregation has been a persistent feature of apprenticeship programmes in countries around the world. In the UK, the Modern Apprenticeship was launched ten years ago as the government’s flagship initiative for training new entrants in a range of occupational sectors. One of its priorities was to increase male and female participation in “non-traditional” occupations, that is, those normally practised by just one sex. However, recent figures show that the programme has failed to achieve its aim and this has prompted an investigation by the Equal Opportunities Commission. This paper aims to report the research as part of this investigation.

Why is it important?

The research provides evidence of the deeply entrenched nature of occupational stereotypes and the psychological and social barriers that have to be overcome if a more evenly balanced workforce is to be created. It also reveals that none of the institutions and organisations which act as gatekeepers between young people and employers is, as yet, taking responsibility for challenging their perceptions and decision-making processes.


Vanessa Beck
University of Bristol

The paper concludes by highlighting the implications of the research findings to stakeholders and suggesting a holistic approach to tackling gender segregation.

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