Young women with vocational qualification get 15% less pay than their male counterparts, study shows, highlighting a huge gender pay gap in the sector. The revelation came from a study by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of official pay figures.

The analysis showed that men aged 22-30 with a vocational qualification above GCSE level earn an average hourly pay of £10/hour, while women with equivalent qualification earn £8.50/hour.

Frances O'Grady, the TUC general secretary, said that the "huge gender pay gap" can partly be blamed on the sectors where the pay is already very low. Notably, this 17% gender pay gap is wider than the 10% pay gap for young women with academic qualifications and even wider for the overall pay gap, which is 9%. The overall gender pay gap is calculated from figures for gross hourly pay for workers aged between 22-30.

Qualification gap

The TUC's research also found a disparity in the number of women receiving vocational qualifications in different sectors. The construction sector was the worst, where in 2015, only one in 40 vocational qualifications was awarded to women.

In engineering and manufacturing sectors, 11% of vocational qualifications were given to women. The health and care sector was the only sector dominated by women, with 63.6% of vocational qualifications given to women.

"Many are still pursuing careers in 'traditional' industries that offer lower wages. Whereas in better-paid sectors like engineering and construction they remain a rarity," O'Grady was quoted as saying by the Guardian.

"Unless we challenge gender stereotyping and discrimination from the outset, the situation is not going to improve. Unions, employers and government must work together to provide better careers advice in schools and to support and improve training opportunities for all young people," she added.

A recent report from the Young Women's Trust found that despite the government's efforts to promote vocational qualifications, women were still underrepresented in sectors dominated by men.

The report also showed that although more women are entering apprenticeships now, they fail to fetch an employment or if they do, get paid less than their male counterparts. The government has pledged to create 3m apprenticeships by 2020.