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On International Women’s Day, Skills Development Scotland Director of National Training Programmes, Katie Hutton, shares her thoughts on achieving better gender balance in the workforce.

 All through Scottish Apprenticeship Week there have been events taking place nationwide, encouraging employers to take on apprentices and individuals to take the work-based learning career path.

 Many had a focus on diversity, such as SDS’s Modern Apprenticeships: Including You! event.

 It was there that I met two female Foundation Apprentice engineers and school pupils, Rabiya Sikander and Leanne MacDonald.

 These self-assured young women were confident and enthusiastic about the Foundation Apprenticeship in engineering and evangelical about encouraging more young women to do the same.

promoting apprenticeship opportunities for women

Katie Hutton with Foundation Apprentices Leanne (left) and Rabiya (centre).

Misconceptions and outdated perceptions

It’s heartening and inspirational to hear from women like Rabiya and Leanne, who have now become real ambassadors by helping SDS to do the job of encouraging more young women to get into apprenticeships.

There are misconceptions about apprenticeships and outdated perceptions about traditional job roles in the wider labour market that influence people’s employment and educational subject choices.

Addressing these issues drives much of our work and, with new developments such as Foundation and Graduate Apprenticeships, we aim to challenge traditional stereotypes and provide new and innovative pathways into different, high skilled sectors.


Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan

For us there is no such thing as ‘jobs or subject choices for boys and jobs or subject choices for girls’.

To tackle this, we are engaging with partners through our Modern Apprenticeship Equality Action Plan, which includes our work with the Institute of Physics and Education Scotland and our new Employer’s Guides to Inclusive Recruitment.

It’s International Women’s Day and fantastic to see so many apprentices, employers and supporters taking the opportunity to highlight the opportunities apprenticeships offer.



Change will not come quickly but we will continue to work with partners, teachers, parents and employers to address the volume and nature of uptake.

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