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Modern Apprentices Mentoring Project
Modern Apprenticeships are well known as a way to open education and employment to young people across Scotland. The Scottish Government has prioritised modern apprentices (MAs) as a way to overcome youth unemployment and increase STEM related work opportunities, however gender segregation in STEM MAs are stark, with young women making up only 1.7% of Construction and 6.1% of Engineering Modern Apprentices. Scotland’s ‘Developing the Young Workforce’ strategy responded to these issues by committing to a focus on STEM, a reduction in gender segregation in STEM MAs, and the development of support networks for young people participating in MAs which are currently heavily gender segregated.
The SDS Equalities Action Plan commits to a number of activities to support delivery on these commitments, including a focus on improving pathways into STEM subjects for young women, and engagement with industry partners to promote positive action in recruitment of young women to non-traditional Modern Apprenticeships. To date, activity has largely focused on recruitment, however there is recognition that there can be a need to provide additional support to young women working within a predominantly male workforce, in order to retain them in their apprenticeships.
A number of studies have found a link between mentoring and apprentice retention rates. Research suggests that ‘mentoring is one factor found to improve retention among apprentices, including those from groups not traditionally employed in the sector’.
Equate Scotland, in partnership with employers and women working in apprenticeships, will develop and pilot an SQA accredited module ‘Training the Trainer for Mentoring Female Modern Apprentices’.
This model will be distinctive from others, as the focus will be beyond simple mentoring provision. There will be gendered perspective to mentoring which will cover issues experienced by female MAs in male dominated environments and training will include an understanding of and practical tips on how mentors play a role in MA retention long term.
By pursuing a “training the trainer” model for this project, we aim to create a sustainable model for providing work based mentoring schemes for women in STEM apprenticeships.