Why apprenticeships are key to getting more women into manufacturing

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By: Caroline Gumble, EEF COO 

On 8 March, around the world, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day. And this year, IWD (#BeBoldforChange) falls during National Apprenticeship Week (#NAW2017). At EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, we feel passionately about getting more women into manufacturing and believe that apprenticeships are an important part of meeting this goal.


Only 9% of the engineering workforce is female, and only 6% of registered engineers and technicians (i.e. CEng, IEng, EngTech) are women. The UK has the lowest percentage of female engineering professionals in Europe, at less than 10%, while others lead with nearly 30%. Sadly, despite UK manufacturing being a profession that pays better than the national average (and continuing to grow & hire, as the ninth largest manufacturing economy in the world), many girls aren’t encouraged into this field.

Apprenticeships represent the future of the UK’s manufacturing workforce. That’s why it is absolutely vital to ensure girls are encouraged to consider apprenticeship and engineering. As our recent interview with Hannah Parker (Head of Technical Services at Ashton & Moore Ltd) uncovered, many young people and girls in particular, are steered away from manufacturing and apprenticeships because of outdated and demonstrably incorrect views of the industry amongst parents and school advisers.

To help ensure women are part of the next generation of manufacturing, EEF works directly with UK industry to recruit and train apprentices. To find out what their experience as an engineering apprentice is like, see these interviews we’ve compiled:

And for those looking to dispel the myths of what life can be like for women in manufacturing, visit our Women in Manufacturing page with profiles of women who have achieved great success in the industry.

As UK manufacturing continues to struggle to fill skills gaps, we can’t afford to miss out on a huge potential workforce in girls and female apprentices.


Follow me on Twitter as I’ll be posting about these topics during National Apprenticeship Week and on International Women’s Day.

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