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Apprenticeships seen as a “man’s world” by young people - and their parents

  • Parents are twice as likely to advise boys to take on an apprenticeship compared to girls
  • Only 1 girl in 10 sees an apprenticeship as a viable option for themselves
  • British Gas is urging more girls to consider apprenticeship as a career option
  • Half of female teens are receiving unhelpful careers advice 

New research from British Gas has revealed that parents are twice as likely to advise boys to take on an apprenticeship compared to girls. 22%of parents would encourage their son to take on an apprenticeship while only 12% of parents would give the same advice to their daughter. 

Parental endorsement shows through strongly in the take-up among boys. When queried about what career their parents would like them to pursue, a quarter (24%) of males said an apprenticeship; only 7% of girls reported the same. 

In an independent survey* polling teens and parents, more than a third of UK parents (35%) admitted offering their children differing career advice depending on their gender. The result of the discrepancy is that only one girl in ten across the UK sees an apprenticeship as a viable option for themselves. Yet more than twice as many teenage boys (22%) are keen to go straight from school into an apprenticeship scheme.

British Gas, which is currently training 1,200 apprentices across the UK, has urged more girls to consider an apprenticeship. Explaining its recruitment drive, the company said in 2014 only 4% of applicants for its competitive technical and engineering apprenticeship schemes were female. 

Claire Miles, Managing Director for Service & Repair at British Gas, commented: “It’s clear from this research that apprenticeships are still regarded as something of a man’s world among young people. That’s behind the times! Despite the rising popularity of apprenticeships, we’re disappointed that more girls aren’t benefiting from this career option. 

“Apprenticeships are a great way into an organisation. A British Gas apprenticeship allows you to earn while you learn and encourages you to develop skills for life. I’d encourage all girls thinking about their future career, or looking for employment, to consider an apprenticeship.” 

British Gas’ survey also reveals concerns with careers advice for girls. Half (49%) of female teens polled complained of receiving unhelpful advice and (44%) of boys shared the same complaint. 

Poor careers advice has resulted in girls limiting their own career choices. More than 70% of girls surveyed expressed a preference for traditionally “female” stereotyped roles within their top three career choices: the beauty industry (75%), nursing (73%) and childcare (72%).

Tips for teens interested in an apprenticeship at British Gas: 

  1. Head over to the official apprenticeship website to discover more about apprenticeships 
  2. Keep a close eye on our website for information on apprenticeship schemes 
  3. Attend one of British Gas’ open days during National Apprenticeship Week. The events will be hosted at each of the company’s six training academies, which are located across the country. You can register your interest by visiting: po.st/BGNAW2015 
For more information and to apply to a British Gas apprenticeship please visit our website

British Gas case studies 

Name: Natalie Foster 
Age: 32 
Position: Apprentice Engineer at British Gas 
Career History: Joined the British Gas Apprenticeship Programme in 2014 
Lives: Orpington, Kent 

British Gas apprentice Natalie Foster, 32, thought she was born to a career working in restaurants and bars – until she realised she’d lost touch with the parts of the job she fell in love with. 

After completing her A-Levels, Natalie entered the hospitality industry, eventually making a career of it by securing a series of bar manager roles. 

She said: “The two things that attracted me to the bar and restaurant trade were meeting new people, and getting stuck in to the hands-on work. The more I moved into management, the less I found I was doing these things – I found myself based in an office most days and that’s just not how I want to spend my time. 

"I always wanted to do something I could feel proud of and which makes people happy, not just stare at a computer all day. The British Gas apprenticeship really appealed to me. I was so happy when I heard that my application had been accepted that I struggled to hide my excitement from my colleagues in the office. 

“So far the course has been just as challenging, interesting and rewarding as I had hoped. I love going into people’s homes and fixing their boilers for them – it gives you an amazing sense of job satisfaction. 

“Being an engineer, it is a largely male environment and I was a little apprehensive going in. I’m the only woman in my class on the course, but I’ve found that I fit in perfectly. All of the other apprentices and tutors have been friendly and helpful.” 

Natalie is currently completing her apprenticeship at the British Gas Academy in Dartford, Kent, just 15 miles from her home town of Orpington. 

She said: “The whole experience has been very liberating, as back in school I remember being steered away from the science and technology subjects because I was a girl. I think times have changed since then and people have realised that there��s absolutely no reason why women can’t do technical jobs. 

“Personally, I love to see women on television or in the media in very practical roles and I’d love to inspire young women not to be afraid to follow their passions, even if it takes them into a traditionally male-dominated field.” 

***********

Name: Stephanie Walker 
Age: 24 
Position: Services and Repair Engineer at British Gas 
Career History: Qualified as a British Gas engineer in 2012 
Lives: Newcastle 24-year old 

Stephanie Walker from Newcastle never planned to pursue a career in engineering. Passionate about sport, Stephanie did a sports degree at university, but one month in, she realised that the course just wasn’t for her. 

“Many of my friends were heading off to university and it just seemed like a natural next step, but it turned out higher education wasn’t what I really wanted – it was a career.” 

After leaving university, Stephanie talked through her options with family and friends, but little did she know that this would lead her to what would become her dream job. 

“I talked to my grandmother’s partner, who had been working as an engineer for British Gas for 40 years. He said great things about the job and really encouraged me to sign up to the apprenticeship scheme, because he knew that I was looking for a ‘hands on’ career. 

“I signed up to the scheme right away and I’ve never looked back. I absolutely love my job and meeting new customers every day is really rewarding. No day is ever the same, so it never gets boring.” 

Despite being one of the few females working in engineering, Stephanie says this doesn’t bother her at all. 

“Working in a male dominated role is absolutely fine. I was slightly nervous at first and worried that I wouldn’t be accepted, but that wasn’t the case. All of my colleagues, male and female, have a really good attitude to their work and they aren’t concerned with what gender I am. 

“I would definitely encourage anybody interested to join the British Gas apprenticeship scheme. As long as you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, you’re going to enjoy it. The course teaches you technical skills and theory, but you also get to do lots of practical and you can even go out on jobs with another engineer whilst you’re learning, to gain customer experience.” 

Stephanie has gained a City & Guilds Level 3 QCF Diploma in Domestic Gas Engineering, and she has big plans for her future with British Gas.

“My British Gas apprenticeship can give me a career for life, and I definitely see myself working for the company for a long time. I’d love to work my way up to become a manager one day and help train other people to get into the profession. I’m really looking forward to my future.” 

ENDS.

For media information or to arrange an interview please contact: 
Hannah Baker at Blue Rubicon – 020 7260 2700 / hannah.baker@bluerubicon.com 
OR Rachel Silver at Blue Rubicon – 020 7260 2700 / Rachel.silver@bluerubicon.com

Notes to editors

  • British Gas is currently training more than 1,200 apprentices across the UK and receives approximately 30 applications per engineering apprenticeship.
  • British Gas is regarded as a premier provider of apprentices and its academies have an Ofsted judgement of ‘Outstanding’ in this sector.In 2014,
  • British Gas invested £21m in training its engineers and apprentices.

Methodology
*The survey was conducted among 1,500 parents and 2,000 teens aged 15-22. The interviews were conducted online by Redshift Research in February 2015 using an email invitation and an online survey. 

British Gas is the UK's leading energy supplier, and serves around 11 million homes in Britain –nearly half the country's homes – as well as providing energy to around half a million UK businesses. British Gas provides value for money, dedicated customer service, innovative energy solutions and the highest quality Home Services expertise in the country. Find out more at www.britishgas.co.uk.


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