Women are losing out when it comes to workplace training

6 November 2015

  • Women are significantly less likely to receive any employer training compared to men
  • Men are more likely than women to receive a pay rise following training
  • Women are given generic training, while companies pay for men to become better leaders
  • Young men earn 21% more than young women on an Apprenticeship

In a survey to mark Equal Pay Day* today, NIACE and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) have launched research revealing some shocking findings about the differences between the training supplied to men and women within the workplace.

The research, which comprised of face-to-face interviews with a total of 6,217 UK adults, found that women are losing out when it comes to workplace training. Women (31%) were significantly more likely than men (26%) to have received no employer arranged training at all in the previous 12 months.

The outcomes of workplace training for men and women also differ. Financially, men benefit more than women; the research shows they were significantly more likely to have received a pay rise as a result of their training (16% compared to 11%).

Meanwhile, the type of training given to men and women also differs, with men more likely to be given training to enable them to become better leaders and managers. Women were significantly more likely than men to have received equality and diversity training (39% of women; 24% of men) and health and safety training (61% of women; 52% of men), whereas men were more likely to have received supervisory training (17% of men; 12% of women).

The research also found that a part-time penalty existed, with those working full time being significantly more likely than their part-time colleagues to have access to employer-provided training. 32% of full-time staff had accessed both on-the-job 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. At present the gender pay gap in the UK is 19.1%, compared with an EU average of 16.4%. 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 work part-time (44% and 13% respectively) and to be found in low paid sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care .

“These shocking results show that we need a real policy conversation about this issue to ensure that women earn a fair wage for their work, and have equal opportunities to access the labour market. It is clear, that unless we effectively address inequalities in access to learning, training and development opportunities for work, then we will only succeed in further hardwiring inequalities into the labour market, rather than providing opportunities for progression and a pathway out of low pay for all.

“To tackle this issue we have demonstrated how NIACE proposals to support people into learning and work would particularly support women, and close the gender pay gap.”

NIACE’s six policies for Equal Pay Day:

  1. A Career Advancement Service. To support women, who are most likely to find themselves in low paid work, or to lose their jobs after returning after a break from work. The Career Advancement Service would support women to articulate their skills and access training opportunities to advance in the labour market.
  2. Making migration work. Two thirds of ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students are women, with a lack of English proficiency leaving many migrant women isolated and reliant upon their families for translation. NIACE’s proposals to protect and better focus ESOL funding will support these women in their communities, as well as into the labour market.
  3. The Apprentice Charter. With a 21% gender pay gap in the apprenticeship sector, we need to ensure that apprenticeship opportunities are high quality and accessible to everyone. NIACE’s Apprentice Charter will shine a light on employers who are working to close the gender pay gap.
  4. A New Youth Allowance. There are 428,000 NEET (not in education, employment or training) women aged 18-24 in the UK, compared to 310,000 young men. We need an education and support system for young people which helps these young women find opportunities for education and work, particularly through traineeships and apprenticeships.
  5. Fairer Support for Young Adult Carers. There are 310,000 young adult carers in the UK, who find themselves twice as likely to be NEET. The majority of those are young women. NIACE has proposed that they get full access to the 16-19 bursary, as well as being exempted them from the 21 hour rule in the benefits system, and allowed access to apprenticeships with flexible hours.
  6. Helping older people gain digital skills for the 21st century. Older women are 1.25 times less likely to be using the internet than older men. NIACE proposes that Government establishes new £40m training fund to support older people and their carers to rapidly gain the skills they need to access online services.

*Each year Equal Pay Day represents the day on which the average full time women’s salary runs out versus her average full time male counterpart.