Only 2% of apprenticeships in Ireland are undertaken by women.
That is according to a new report by the Oireachtas committee on business, which recommends an overhaul of legislation for apprenticeships.
The document also finds very few disabled people and Travellers are undertaking apprenticeships.
Committee chairperson Mary Butler says the findings about women were of most concern.
"We were actually appalled to discover that only 2% of apprenticeships in Ireland are undertaken by women," said Ms Butler.
"We heard from a very interesting young lady who decided to become an apprentice with the ESB four years ago.
"She is now, at 23 years of age, a qualified electrician.
"But I was shocked to hear that out of a class of 200 only five young girls put their name forward."
Ms Butler said the Government must take action to address the significant drop in apprenticeships.
"We would like to see the Government examine an avenue to reduce the financial burden on employers taking on apprentices."
She added: "Sometimes when you take on an apprentice it can be costly and some small companies are not able to afford that.
"We're at a stage now in the country where we are approaching full employment, and it is absolutely important to ensure that we have the systems in place to meet our future skills needs."