The Year of Engineering is an opportunity to tackle historical gender stereotypes. Throughout 2018, the Year of Engineering campaign will highlight the variety and creativity of engineering to improve the understanding of what engineers do and of the enormous opportunities that a career in engineering offers both to young men and young women.
Engineering is a vital employment sector for residents of Mid Derbyshire, both in small and medium-sized enterprises and in larger companies like Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Toyota. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on which external partners in Derby have signed up to the Year of Engineering campaign?
One of the biggest barriers to women and girls entering careers in engineering and physics is the perceptions and expectations of parents. What work is the Minister doing during the Year of Engineering to encourage parents to look at the career options?
The hon. Lady is quite right. We have been successful since 2010 because, in England, GCSE entries by girls in physics have risen from 50,600 in 2010 to 66,700 this year, and the number of girls entering A-level physics has risen from 5,800 in 2010 to 6,947 in 2017. Overall, the number of girls taking STEM A-levels has increased by 20% since 2010.
As well as ensuring that careers advice encourages more women into engineering, will my right hon. Friend look at financial incentives and at how the apprenticeship levy is working to incentivise companies to employ more women in engineering?
My right hon. Friend is quite right. We introduced the apprenticeship levy to boost the importance of apprenticeships. We delivered more than 2 million apprenticeship starts in the last Parliament and are committed to 3 million apprenticeship starts in this Parliament, because this is a Government who are committed to high-quality skills in our economy. The apprenticeship programme is part and parcel of that ambition.