The Builders Merchants Federation has set an ambitious target to double the number of women entering the merchant industry by 2020. Currently only 11% of merchanting apprentices are female.
232,000 jobs will be created in the construction industry over the next 5 years, according to the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB). The charity Young Women’s Trust has found that over 1 million women from 16-30 are in poorly paid roles and looking for work.
A recent survey by the Young Women’s Trust found that occupational segregation by gender is significant and is going backwards - an example being that women comprise 94% of childcare apprenticeships but just under 4% of all engineering apprenticeships. These sectors are generally lower paid with women on apprenticeships earning on average 21% less than men on comparable apprenticeships.
"Merchanting is a fantastic career with great progression and I want to open up the sector to more women across the country," said BMF MD John Newcomb. "This is a huge opportunity for our members who need a full mix of skills and experience in their branches and I am certain that we will meet, if not exceed, our ambitious target.”
Carole Easton, Chief Exec of the Young Women’s Trust, added: “There is much more that can be done to help young women into work. We believe that positive action can play a part and we are delighted that the BMF have signed our pledge and have gone even further in setting their own gender diversity targets for the merchanting sector. Our apprenticeships report unveiled a shocking story around women’s apprenticeships and we are very keen to work with industry partners to address this.”
The BMF has been targeting women through its youth recruitment campaign, with the website www.merchant-recruitment.co.uk featuring several young women who are already making their mark in the industry.
The BMF has now signed up to the following pledge: “The BMF recognises the value of gender diversity and will take action to increase the representation of young women in our apprenticeship programmes.”