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Apprenticeships Can Help Advance Career Opportunities for Women

March is Women’s History Month, a time to honor and celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history and in the modern era. While there is positive progress to celebrate, women still have a long way to go when it comes to leveling the playing field in career opportunities and gender pay equity. 

According to Women in Tech Network, it will take 133 years to close the economic gender gap. The World Bank reports that women make up less than 40% of the global workforce. This severe lack of female diversity is even more pronounced in the tech industry, where women make up just 28% of the workforce. 

Attracting and retaining a diverse workforce that includes women is crucial to help bridge the economic gender gap and advance gender equity. However, research shows employers struggle to recruit and retain talent from underrepresented groups such as women, people of color, Veterans, and individuals with disabilities. Registered Apprenticeships are one solution employers should consider, as these programs support the recruitment and retention of women and help create more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible workplaces.  

 

Addressing the Challenge of Recruiting Female Talent

The tech industry continues to face persistent talent shortages amid rising demand for highly skilled roles. These challenges aren’t going away, and companies that don’t embrace new, creative talent acquisition strategies will be at a competitive disadvantage. For these reasons, leaders need to shift their hiring practices to address talent gaps while creating new pathways to careers in tech. 

Enter apprenticeships, which offer an alternative pathway for employers to diversify their workforce while addressing pervasive talent shortages. Focusing specifically on women, apprenticeships provide an opportunity for employers to recruit them into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs. Women tend to self-select out of these careers at an early age—31% opt out in middle school. That figure jumps to 40% in high school and reaches 58% in college.

Nonetheless, female representation in apprenticeships is expanding exponentially across many industries in the United States. The number of female apprentices has more than doubled from fiscal year 2014 to 2022, according to the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL also reports that 13% of active apprentices, and 17% of new apprentices, are female. 

And according to data from Apprenti, which focuses on helping employers bridge the tech talent and diversity gaps by delivering industry-recognized, federally approved registered apprenticeship programs, 41% of its non-Veteran apprentices are women. To put that into context, 50% of Apprenti apprentices are Veterans, and 92% of its apprentices come from underrepresented groups. 

These data points indicate that apprenticeship resonates with women as a desirable pathway to well-paying, family-sustaining career opportunities. 

 

Why Women in the Workforce Matters

Studies show that diverse companies are more innovative, creative, productive, and profitable. Moreover, gender-diverse teams do 73% better at making business decisions, and companies with high degrees of gender diversity are 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability, according to B2B and SaaS platform reviewer, FinancesOnline

Apprenticeships can provide a viable pathway to help upskill or reskill women who are returning to the workforce after a temporary leave, to serve as caregivers for children or aging parents, for example. These programs can also provide middle-skills career opportunities for those seeking higher-wage occupations or a totally new career path. Considering apprenticeship programs make sense in this context because the Covid-19 pandemic created outsized challenges for women in the workforce, leading to reduced satisfaction with their work/life balance, increased professional and personal responsibilities, and lower productivity and job satisfaction. It’s no wonder that women were 10% more likely than men to change careers due the pandemic. Apprenticeships may provide women the option to make a career shift rather than remaining in jobs they dislike or worse, exiting the workforce altogether.

For women seeking new opportunities, apprenticeships are far more accessible than traditional four-year degree programs. They are more cost-effective (Apprenti, for example, doesn’t charge apprentices a fee to be part of its program), shorter in duration (most tech apprenticeship programs last about a year), and give women a chance to earn while they learn, combining classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Other benefits include opportunities for networking and the ability to receive real-world guidance and support from mentors and peers. 

Female apprentices also have the potential to boost their earnings power. While women tended to earn less than men by $8,000 coming into the Apprenti program, they earned $3,500 more than men on exit, according to the Registered Apprenticeship program provider.

 

Bridge the Gender Gap with Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships provide a solid pathway for employers to consider when it comes to bridging the digital skills talent gap, recruiting diverse candidates, and providing nontraditional pathways to employment. Registered Apprenticeship programs such as Apprenti deliver a ready-made pipeline of talent from underrepresented groups, including women, which can help the tech industry close the gender equity and economy divide and reap the benefits of having a greater female presence in their workforce.

Explore how Apprenti can help you create a more diverse workforce by supporting your efforts to recruit and retain female talent. 

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