The female-led leadership team of IfATE (the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education) is throwing their support behind International Women’s Day and calling for better representation across every sector.

According to 2022/23 data, the number of women and men on apprenticeships is about 50/50 (51.2% for women and 48.8% for men), but men make up the majority of apprenticeship starts in construction and the built environment 92.0%, in engineering and manufacturing this is 91.3%, in transport and logistics this is 82.7%, in digital it is 69.6%. 

Women make up the majority of starts in education and childcare at 93.2%, hair and beauty at 93.5%, care service at 81.3%, and health and science at 74.4%.

Ahead of IWD, which takes place on March 8, IfATE chief executive Jennifer Coupland, chair Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, and job-sharing strategy directors Beth Chaudhary and Rachel Cooper are shining a spotlight on the following facts:

  • Over 680 apprenticeships are now available, and they have become a credible, mainstream, option for everyone who wants to get on in life with over 750,000 people currently on them.
  • Apprenticeships provide a great pipeline for new talent into an industry, particularly where employers want to change the gender balance in their sector.  
  • ‘Green skills’ have been added to over 200 occupational standards at pace in support of the government’s target to reach net zero by 2050 and over 5,000 apprentices have already started training for careers that contribute to tackling climate change.
  • The estimated yearly gain for employers is between £2,500 and £18,000 per apprentice and around 80% say employing apprentices has led to a productivity boost.
  • Businesses with a healthy balance of men and women are 15% more likely to outperform their competitors. 
  • There are still numerous actions employers can take to make apprenticeships and technical qualifications more inclusive to either sex where an imbalance exists. These include reviewing flexibility around working hours to accommodate childcare and reviewing language used in job adverts.


Jennifer Coupland, chief executive, said: “It is vital employers take advantage of the opportunities apprenticeships and technical education now present to have a healthy balance of men and women in their workforce – particularly in certain sectors like construction, engineering and digital.” 
“We are proud of the women undertaking IfATE approved apprenticeships, including those who have joined sectors still dominated by men and urge more to join them. Our occupational maps have all the information you need to get started.  
“I also urge more businesses to work with IfATE to ensure we stay on top of revising and updating occupational standards to include the needs of everyone – our trailblazer groups always welcome different perspectives.”        


Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith, chair of IfATE, said: "Apprenticeships and technical education are a great way of progressing and tackling both the skills gap and gender gap, I would recommend this route to anyone and am delighted IfATE is now also able to advise employers on ways to improve their equity, diversity and inclusion." 


Beth Chaudhary and Rachel Cooper, job-sharing strategy directors of IfATE, said: “Technical education and apprenticeships are playing a vital role in creating an amazing vibrant UK economy, and the role of women in this is paramount. We are delighted to be part of this revolution. We’re also proud advocates of job-sharing – offering a different model of leadership at a senior level.”