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Ruth Kelly, Minister for Women, stepped up efforts to reduce the gender pay gap today by awarding nearly half a million pounds to a range of organisations to create more quality part time jobs at senior level.
Visiting a Royal Mail sorting office, Ruth Kelly met mail workers who will benefit from one of the schemes awarded funding from a new Quality Part Time Work Fund.
£25,000, match-funded by Royal Mail, will be used to develop job-share and part-time managerial posts on two sites in London. Royal Mail intend to make 10% of management jobs on these sites part-time within 18 months. They then aim to roll this out across the business. Other successful projects include a scheme to recruit more senior female investigators on a part-time basis at Durham Constabulary; a national job-share register and a project researching role models for part time working in ethnic minority communities in Blackburn.
Supporting employers to create more quality part-time and flexible posts was one of the commitments made in the Government’s action plan last September, following a recommendation by the independent Women and Work Commission. The fund is designed to open up more part-time jobs for women at a senior level through giving women the confidence to pursue part-time working and helping employers find ways to make it work. Organisations awarded funding had to demonstrate their commitment to the project and commit to sharing the lessons learnt with other employers.
Ruth Kelly, said;
“The part-time pay gap is still too wide with women working part-time earning 40 per cent less than men working full-time. Working with a range of employers across business, local government and the voluntary sector, we can kick start the process of enabling more women to work part-time in senior posts. As things stand, working part-time is concentrated in low-paid jobs and junior grades – this fund is designed to show employers that women can balance climbing the career ladder with their home lives.”
One year on from the Women and Work Commission’s report, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister to look at how to reduce the gender pay gap and help women reach their full potential, Ruth Kelly today published further progress on the Government’s action plan in ‘Towards a Fairer Future’;
From May 2007, careers advice will be free from stereotypical images and messages that assume there are ‘jobs for girls’ and ‘jobs for boys’.
We will introduce new diplomas, such as in Engineering and Information Technology, which will encourage young people to consider and opt for non-stereotypical routes.
We are investing £40 million to help women with low skills gain qualifications, develop their confidence and also provide them with mentoring support.
£250 million is being spent on improving the skills and qualifications of those who teach under 5s, the majority of whom are women.
115 employers have signed up to the Exemplar Employer scheme for companies and organisations that have particular schemes in place to support their female staff to balance work and family life. These range from Asda to Lloyds TSB to local authorities. Exemplar organisations are meeting in May to share their experiences of what works to support these aims.
To support women back into work after taking a career break, we are piloting a learndirect telephone service to test the value of one to one support. It is aimed at adults returning from career breaks, seeking to progress in their careers and wanting to develop their skills. 55% of callers to this service are women.
Commenting on the Government’s progress during the past year on their recommendations, Margaret Prosser, chair of the Women and Work Commission, said;
“Closing the gender pay gap will not happen overnight, however the Government is making assured progress in helping women reach their goals in the workplace. In particular, we commend the work they are doing with employers to recognise the benefits of recruiting and retaining staff from the whole talent pool through the Exemplar Employer scheme and the dedicated training programmes and pilots which are underway to help women break into male-dominated occupations. But we do want to see the momentum kept up, in particular on standards in education and careers advice to ensure that all subjects are made appealing and accessible to girls.”