Network Rail is the latest company to join the Young Women’s Trust campaign to make apprenticeships work for young women and are looking to recruit in Peterborough, March Ely and Cambridge.
Over the coming year the two organisations will work together to increase the number of young women joining Network Rail’s Advanced Apprenticeship scheme.
Young Women’s Trust wants to see an apprenticeship system that sees young women taking the best opportunities and makes the most of their talents.
The charity’s recent report “Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women” highlighted the lack of young women undertaking apprenticeships in science, technology and engineering, as well as the challenges facing employers in recruiting young women on to their schemes. Last year there were 25 men for every woman starting an apprenticeship in engineering - a figure that hasn’t changed in over a decade.
Some 2,000 young people have joined the Network Rail’s Advanced Engineering Apprenticeship scheme since it launched in 2005. Over the last decade, apprentices and those graduating from the scheme have been integral to the successful day to day running and operation of the railway. Many have become leaders themselves and have gone on to work in exciting, vital roles within the organisation.
Network Rail is currently recruiting for 140 apprentices to join its scheme in March 2017 and has already taken action to make the scheme more attractive to young women. The company has adapted the language and images used in its advertising as well as using its schools engagement programme to reach out to girls and reverse the perception that engineering is only for boys. In signing the pledge launched by the Young Women’s Trust, Network Rail hopes to build on this work.
Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “Women are woefully underrepresented in our industry and at Network Rail we are determined to challenge that. World class businesses like ours need to take account of the diversity of the communities that we serve.
“We need a highly skilled workforce to enable us to deliver our multi-billion pound railway upgrade plan and a network fit for the 21st century- this is something we can only do by tapping into the full range of talent available. We are proud of what we have already achieved but we always believe we can do more and that’s why we fully support this initiative by the Young Women’s Trust.”
Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said: “Young Women’s Trust is delighted that one of the country’s top employers is supporting our pledge to improve apprenticeships for young women.
“The problem of under-representation of women in sectors like engineering remains a huge concern both for young women themselves and for our economy and has stubbornly refused to go away.
“It is encouraging to see the incredible efforts Network Rail has already made to make its workforce more representative and this commitment to going even further is to be particularly commended. We hope that other companies will be encouraged to come forward to make apprenticeships work for young women.”