Northampton Borough Council is set to award funds to two women who are heading into less traditional vocations.
The £5,000 awards coincide with International Women’s Day on Sunday, 8 March, and arrive just in time for the start of National Apprenticeships Week, running from Monday, March 9, to Friday, March 13.
Gina Hammersley is studying for a Level 2 Diploma in Vehicle Refinishing at Northampton College and is due to complete her course in June this year.
And Courtenay Francesca Wells has started an Improving Operational Performance apprenticeship with Church’s Shoes. The company is currently preparing for its expansion into the Northampton Waterside Enterprise Zone.
Councillor David Mackintosh, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “The aim of these awards is to help promote women to think about careers like construction, engineering, technology or science-based industries that are so important for our local economy.
“We already do a great deal to encourage firms to offer apprenticeships, particularly in our Enterprise Zone, as we believe they offer an excellent route into work.
“This new annual award scheme will support young women to consider a wider breadth of career options and perhaps opt for something a little less conventional.”
While things are changing in the workplace, more still needs to be done to level the playing field between men and women.
Around 20 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises are either run by women or by a team that was more than 50 per cent female. This is up from 14 per cent in 2008.
Female representation on FTSE 100 boards now stands at 22.8 per cent, up from 12.5 per cent in February 2011, and there are now no all-male FTSE 100 boards at all, compared with 21 in 2011.
There are also more women in employment than ever before - 14.4 million, which is 796,000 up on May 2010.
The borough council is keen to continue the positive trend, helping increase the number of girls and young women that take up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths, including through the national ‘Your Life’ campaign.
Councillor Anna King, co-chair of the Northampton Borough Council Women’s Forum, and assistant cabinet member for community engagement, said: “It’s vital that we support young people into work, and these awards will do just that.
“It is particularly heartening that we are able to support young women to make bold choices about the kind of career they wish to pursue.
“It’s not always easy to break out of the mould other people create for you, but this kind of backing will help a lucky few to do so with confidence.”