Female apprentices have been working for free since 28 October

Hands cutting hair

Equal Pay Day, the day where women effectively work for free for the rest of the year because of the gender pay gap, occurs this year on 9 November.

But, almost two weeks ago, another equal pay day went past unnoticed.

On 28 October female apprentices started working for free, because the pay discrepancy between men and women in vocational training is even bigger.

Male apprentices earn £1,600 more than female apprentices, a report from the Young Women's Trust suggests.

Young women are expected to be pioneers in industries where there's a lot of men
Mark Gale
Young Women's Trust

Their poll of more than 1,000 people showed female apprentices earn on average, £4.82 an hour, compared with £5.85 an hour for male apprentices.

The kinds of apprenticeships young people take on are still very much gendered, with male apprentices going into plumbing, building and electrical trades and female apprentices signing up to beauty, social care and retail roles.

In part, this is caused by young people getting gendered careers advice, says Mark Gale, campaigns manager for the Young Women's Trust.

"Very early on they have quite a strong expectation about what sort of roles are for men and what roles are for women," he says.

"We know that young women also experience difficulty trying to get into careers that they might otherwise choose."

Glamorous woman with a hard hat and drill
Image caption This is one of the many similar images we found when we searched "women in construction"

One young woman Mr Gale spoke to recently told him she had faced "hostility" from both her employer and other apprentices at her placement in a construction company.

"Young women are expected to be pioneers in industries where there's a lot of men," he adds.

Very early on they have quite a strong expectation about what sort of roles are for men and what roles are for women
Mark Gale
Young Women's Trust

The Young Women's Trust wants women going into these kinds of apprenticeships to have more mentoring and peer-to-peer support, so they feel less isolated.

Employers should be making a "real effort" to increase the numbers of female apprentices in these sectors, says Mr Gayle, "to really give these young women a sense of strength in numbers".

According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, working women in their 20s actually earn more than men.

"Work from the Institute of Fiscal Studies demonstrates that a lot of the narrowing of that [gender pay] gap over the past few years has been due to a fall in men's wages rather than an increase in women's wages," says Mr Gale.

"One might expect when it [the wider economic climate] starts to grow again, we might see a widening of the gap again.

The Queen watches a building apprentice

"The Young Women's Trust would have big concerns that we don't get too complacent."

The date for the Apprentice Equal Pay Day was worked out using the same method the Fawcett Society used to find out when Equal Pay Day is.

Based on an average working week of 30 hours, women earn £7,519.20 per year, compared to £9,126 for men.

This gives a gender wage gap of 17.6%, compared to 14.2% for those in full-time employment. 17% of a year is approximately 64 days and 28 October is 64 days before the end of the year.

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