Training in London to reduce gender pay gap

2nd November 2007 at 00:00

An extra pound;20 million is being put into skills training for women in London in a bid to reduce the gap in pay between the sexes.

The cash for Train to Gain, the Government's free training scheme for employers, will allow women to get level 3 (A-level equivalent) skills regardless of their previous qualifications to tackle inequality which Whitehall says costs the UK economy up to pound;23 billion a year.

Industries in which women are under-represented, such as construction, are one target. But the Learning and Skills Council also wants women to progress in fields such as healthcare in which they form the majority of employees but rarely have management positions.

Phillippa Langton, regional director for skills at the London LSC, said: "We are one of the most successful economies in the world and London's productivity rate is off the page, yet we have the lowest employment rate in the country - just 69 per cent compared with 74 per cent nationally. A large proportion of Londoners not currently working are women, particularly lone parents."

Research by the Greater London Authority and the Treasury suggests the high cost of childcare and the scarcity of low-skilled jobs are among the main reasons for London's low rate of employment. There are more than three people with low skills for every low-skilled job.

By investing more money in skills for women, the LSC hopes it can give women a better chance of staying in work by putting them in contention for more of the available jobs and by helping them earn higher salaries so that childcare becomes more affordable.

Investing in skills for women is also seen as an investment in the future since by 2016 women are expected to take seven out of 10 new jobs, according to the GLA.

Ms Langton said the same opportunities would eventually be open to men also as the LSC wants to extend Train to Gain to include level 3 qualifications.

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