With an equal number of women entering the workforce as men, you may think that cracks are starting to form in the proverbial glass ceiling. However, recent research by Theknowledgeacademy.com reveals the limitations women still face in their professional careers; namely a lack of workplace training offered by their employers.

The Knowledge Academy has consulted data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, alongside 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.)

Findings have exposed that employers are 18 per cent more likely to sponsor job-focused training for a man than for a woman. Looking at 32 EU countries, including the UK, the study showed that on average almost eight in ten men are offered workplace training, paid for by their employer, compared to only six in ten 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 per cent of women of women questioned had received this sort of training, compared to 24 per cent of men) or health and safety training (61 per cent of women, compared to 52 per cent 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 EU countries that had the largest disparity in employer-sponsored training for men and women were as follows:

1.Turkey: 36.3 per cent

2.Switzerland: 22 per cent

3.Italy: 19 per cent

4.Czech Republic: 17.1 per cent

5.Spain:13.8 per cent

6.France:13.1 per cent

7.Greece:13.1 per cent

8.Germany: 13.1 per cent

9.Luxembourg:12.8 per cent

10.Austria:12.5 per cent

In the UK, the percentage difference was five per cent.

Indeed, 74.1 per cent of men’s professional training was sponsored by their employer, compared to 68 per cent 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 per cent.

As a consequence of this lack of sponsorship, women are more likely to have contributed towards the costs of their training than men, revealing a desire to advance in the workplace.

What does this mean for women’s professional progression?

Investment in learning and skills development can bring considerable benefits, both to the individual and the business in which they are employed. Reported outcomes of training include a more skilled, confident, satisfied and loyal workforce.

More than 80 per cent of those studying for their line of work reported positive outcomes.Results from the survey conducted by NIACE and UKCES, have shown that 61 per cent of respondents felt it necessary to improve their skills to support their career. With such importance placed on adult education, it is a tragedy that women are not offered the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

This is especially true when you consider that 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 per cent and 33 per cent respectively), as well as to aim fora better job or promotion in the next five (64 per cent and 44 per cent respectively).

Why are women left behind?

Unfortunately, the answer to this seems to reside in the difficulty transitioning back into the workplace after bearing children. Women are significantly more likely than men to work part-time (44 per cent and 13 per cent respectively), especially after becoming mothers, unfortunately resulting in a lack of training opportunities.

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

On the results, Dr Fiona Aldridge, assistant director for development and research at NIACE, says, ‘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 per cent. Women are also much more likely than men to be found in low paid sectors such as retail, hospitality and social care.’

Further reading on work-related training

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