DUMBARTON’S MSP has called on West Dunbartonshire Council Council to do more to encourage women and girls into apprenticeships.

Jackie Baillie made the call after obtaining figures in response to a parliamentary question.

The statistics show that in 2011-12 there were 118 female modern apprentices in West Dunbartonshire, a figure which had risen to 226 by 2013-14.

After dipping to 177 in 2014-15, this statistic rose again to 197 in 2015-16 before dropping off to 170 and 172 in 2016-17 and 2017-18 respectively.

The latest figure, from 2018-19, stands at 179.

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Ms Baillie said: “These figures should be a cause for concern for the SNP Government. It is clear that cuts to council budgets are having an impact on their ability to support apprenticeships.

“At a time of austerity, it is crucial that we are taking every step possible to ensure that job opportunities are available, especially for women and girls.

“We must also consider how we tackle factors like the rising cost of living as some apprentices are simply unable to afford to finish their placement.

“I would urge West Dunbartonshire Council to do everything they can to support apprentices and encourage more women to come forward.

“It would be helpful if they could also look at additional measures they can take to ensure that apprentices can complete their courses.”

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A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “Our Working 4U and education services along with our community planning partners, particularly Skills Development Scotland and West College Scotland, are working hard to reverse this trend. As part of our campaigns to raise awareness of apprenticeships, we are delivering gender specific information sessions in schools and in the community.”