From education to employment

International Women’s Day: #EmbraceEquity in Apprenticeships

Sue Pittock OBE is CEO of Remit Training

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day on Wednesday, 8 March is #EmbraceEquity calling for a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. Sue Pittock of Remit Training proposes how we can make STEM apprenticeships more inclusive for women and other under-represented groups.


The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day on 8 March is #EmbraceEquity and Remit Training believes that it’s a great choice, not least because it makes very sound business sense.

Being serious about tackling gender disparity in the workplace should start at the top.  Over half of Remit Training’s board is female while women comprise 70% of the senior management team.

Remit delivers apprenticeships and other skills training for employers across a number of key sectors including automotive, digital, hospitality, business, food and retail.  Given that we are one of the largest trainers of automotive technicians in the country (therefore a significant proportion of our business), it might come as a surprise that half of our learners across all sectors are female.

Moreover in the male dominated automotive sector, we are working very closely with HGV employers to train more female apprentices and EV technicians, and in the case of one recent group from Volvo Trucks 50 per cent of them were young women.  With the modern kit available, the need for physical strength in a workshop is now much less of a challenge. 

Our English and Welsh apprentices undertake training on block release at our academies in Derby which involves staying in local hotels.  For young women, often away from home on their own for the first time, this can be a daunting prospect and we have a female team leader available to support them and the other apprentices 24/7.  Support can include cognitive behavioural therapy to assist with an individual’s mental wellbeing.

We are also trying to address equity and diversity in the digital sector where management in particular is mostly white and male.  Whatever the sector, we believe that apprenticeships offer an opportunity to rectify under-representation and enrich our industries whether it is an issue of gender, ethnicity or disability.  For example, employers increasingly recognise the value of recruiting neurodivergent learners in key roles.

At Remit we are not complacent about the progress made because there is still plenty of scope for improvement. 

Here are some of the actions we are taking to make further ground:

Attracting early talent

Different approaches are needed to attract to apprenticeships a generation of young people brought up on smartphones and other digital devices.  These can involve designing apps which offer access to short films that provide visual journeys of early talent making progress in their careers as a result of a successful apprenticeship programme.

On equity and diversity, it does no harm in setting targets for the form of talent pool desired within an organisation.  Employers and providers can work together to achieve these.

Creation of targeted campaigns

Again a strong partnership between the provider and the employer can result in the creation of specifically targeted campaigns aimed at previously under-represented groups.  Using video, Remit has launched its #startbeingagirl campaign to attract more female automotive technician apprentices.

Having the right policies in place

Introducing and following the right policies at work, including EDI policies, should not be a tick-box exercise for the HR department.  On recruitment, pay, performance management, promotion and retention, an employer should strive to make their workplace as inclusive as possible.

For Remit, an example of taking this seriously is making all apprentices at our automotive academies aware that some exchanges of ‘banter’ can cross a line.  This is especially important with more female apprentices participating in our programmes.

We also feel strongly that our workforce should reflect what we see in our clients, i.e. under-represented groups frequently purchasing goods and services.

Women in leadership roles

Young female talent need to see role models in action and this means women occupying senior positions in organisations.  In other words, employers and providers should walk the talk.

On International Women’s Day, Remit Training will certainly be taking the opportunity to #EmbraceEquity on our social media channels.  During the week, which coincides with Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we are welcoming our local female MP and female MSP to our automotive academy in Motherwell where they will meet some of our female apprentices. 

Making the hard yards on this will be a continuous challenge but why shouldn’t we have one day a year to celebrate progress?

sue pittock
By Sue Pittock OBE, chief executive of Remit Training

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