Women face training gap due to flexible working

Employers are 18% more likely to sponsor job-focused training for a man than for a woman, according to new analysis by The Knowledge Academy.

The analysis is based on data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union and a survey of over 6,000 adults conducted by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE.)

Looking at 32 EU countries, including the UK, the study showed that on average almost eight in 10 men are offered workplace training, paid for by their employer, compared to only six in 10 women. Furthermore, UKCES has revealed that even when trained, men were more likely to receive a pay rise thanks to the skills they learned.

The Knowledge Academy found that this was in part due to the type of training offered to each gender. Men were more likely to undergo supervisory training to help them become better leaders and managers. In contrast, women were offered courses on equality and diversity training (39% of women of women questioned had received this sort of training, compared to 24% of men) or health and safety training (61% of women, compared to 52% of men).

This is despite women stating that they were more likely to identify that the skills they needed were more job-focused, specifically in IT and numeracy.

The UK’s disparity in employer-sponsored training for men and women stood 5%, which compared favourably with many other European countries, including Germany and France. Turkey had the largest gap at 36%, followed by Switzerland at 22%.  Some 74.1% of men’s professional training in the UK was sponsored by their employer, compared to 68% of women’s training. The only EU country to offer more women training than men was Lithuania, where the percentage difference in favour of women was 1.3%.

Results from the survey conducted by NIACE and UKCES, have shown that 61% of respondents felt it necessary to improve their skills to support their career. Employees learning for work-related reasons were significantly more likely to have gained a new job or been promoted in the last five years (54% and 33% respectively), as well as to aim for a better job or promotion in the next five (64% and 44% respectively).

The Knowledge Academy says the reasons for the disparity lie mainly in the difficulty transitioning back into the
workplace after bearing children because women are significantly more likely than men to work part-time (44% and 13% respectively), especially after becoming mothers.

According to research, those working full-time were more likely than their part-time colleagues to have access to employer-provided training: 32% of full-time staff had accessed both on-thejob and off-the-job training in the previous 12 months, whereas only 19% of part-time staff had done so.

Dr Fiona Aldridge, Assistant Director for Development and Research at NIACE, said: “The differences we have found between training provision for men and women reflect wider issues within the workplace when it comes to gender inequality. Advancements in flexible working have helped to ensure that there are now a record number of women in work, but this flexibility is often accompanied by a hidden pay penalty: the hourly pay difference between full-time and part-time workers is currently 25%. Women are also much more likely than men to be found in low paid sectors
such as retail, hospitality and social care.”

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