Men in manual low-skilled jobs should be prioritised in the government’s National Retraining Scheme by ring-fencing funding for them, the Social Mobility Commission has suggested.
In its Adult Skills Gap report, published today, the commission proposes measures to reverse the “virtuous and vicious cycle” of highly skilled graduates receiving the most training when in employment compared with the lowest-skilled and those with no qualifications.
The report’s authors suggest that the groups that receive the least training are often men in routine and manual roles – particularly older men – and funding to support their training should be protected in the budget for the National Retraining Scheme.
The report says that in 2017, a slightly higher percentage of women than men participated in training (26 per cent compared with 21 per cent). This could be down to more women working in the public sector, where employers are more likely to offer staff training.
A separate report published today by the Higher Education Commission identifies a link between educational "cold spots" and a "dearth of degree apprenticeship" opportunities in some parts of the country.
The poorest have least training
According to the Social Mobility Commission, the poorest adults with the lowest qualifications were the least likely to access training – despite being the group who would benefit most. Graduates were three times more likely to participate in training than those with no qualifications (30 per cent, compared with 8 per cent).
The commission puts forward three proposals to improve the social mobility impact of training:
- Increased employer spend on lower-skilled, low-paid workers.
- Government support for increased availability of, and access to, free courses for those who cannot pay themselves.
- Increased quality of training in terms of earning gains, and improved careers education, information, advice and guidance.
'Benefit business and the economy'
Dame Martina Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Commission, said too many employers are wasting the potential of employees by not offering training or progression routes to their low and mid-skilled workers.
She added: “Both employers and the government need to act to address this problem. They should start by increasing their investment in training, to bring it closer to that of international competitors, and prioritise this to those with low or no skills. Doing this would benefit both business and the economy as a whole.”
The chair of Capital City College Group, Alastair Da Costa, who also sits on the commission, said a lack of ongoing training for low-paid workers is a contributing factor for millions enduring a lifetime of poorly-paid work.
He added: “As we prepare to leave the EU, it is more important than ever for us to build relevant skills to improve the UK’s productivity. That is why we want to see more investment in life-long learning and adult education – including enabling more courses to be available for those who cannot afford them.”