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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Number of apprenticeships in area falling

THE amount of apprenticeships is falling and gender gaps are widening, an MP has claimed.

Numbers starting apprenticeships in Furness fell last year for the first time in more than five years, according to new figures obtained by Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock.

A government response to a parliamentary question from the Barrow and Furness MP shows that around 1,060 new apprentices started in his constituency in 2011/12, compared to 1,230 in 2010/11, a 13 per cent decrease.

The provisional figures, which will be verified in official government statistics released in the new year, come despite key firms like BAE increasing the number of apprenticeships it offers to young people.

Mr Woodcock said: “Long-term unemployment is still rising in Furness and news that the number of new apprenticeships appears to have fallen last year is worrying because they are essential to give our young people the start they need.

“Maintaining orders in the shipyard, skills investment in Ulverston to support GSK, and the amazing new Furness College building secured by the last government gives us a great chance to succeed, but ministers must not be complacent given the scale of difficulty firms are facing.”

The reduction in new apprentices is across all age ranges, with 60 fewer under-19s starting apprenticeships than in the previous year.

Other figures obtained by Mr Woodcock also reveal a stark gender divisions in apprenticeships in Barrow and Furness.
Barely one in 10 new apprentices in engineering or manufacturing is female, and just 13 per cent of apprentices in the health and care sectors are male.

Mr Woodcock said: “Despite real efforts to break down stereotypes, it seems some young people are still being put off from reaching their potential by outdated perceptions like the idea that engineering is no job for a women or real men don’t nurse.

“In particular, the country urgently needs more skilled young people in advanced manufacturing – the suggestion that seven times as many boys than girls have an aptitude for it is bunkum. We should look afresh at the reasons why such a stark divide persists and what we can do about it.”

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