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Minister blames employers for gender gap

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Skills minister David Lammy has blamed British employers for the failure of government schemes to better women’s employment prospects.

The London Level 3 pilot project, for example, designed to provide working women with A-level equivalent training, has attracted only 750 attendees. The £20 million project has a target of 12,000.

“Some of these pilots have got off to a slower start than I would have liked because they are cutting to the heart of changing employer practices,” said Lammy at a commons select committee last week.

Lammy’s position contradicts the government’s earlier findings. The women-only pilot is itself a by-product of the Women and Work Commission report, published in March this year, which set out a number of recommendations about closing the gender gap in the UK job market.

The gap stood at 17 per cent for full-time workers and 40 per cent for part-time. The commission stated the reason behind this gap was the need for better education and careers advice, not bad business practice.

In his appearance before the trade and industry committee, Lammy refuted this rationale. “This work is about changing practice,” he insisted. “It is about persuading employers that this [training programme] is good for them.”

The CBI has expressed some doubts over Lammy’s implication that British bosses are reluctant to train their female staff. “Much is being done in this regard and there is much more to do, but this pilot is a very specific example,” said a spokesperson.

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