No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Research into gender skills gap launched


A major new research project has been launched by the National Skills Forum which will examine the current skills gap between men and women and the implications for the UK economy.

Current estimates show that the skills deficit in the female workforce is costing the UK up to £23 billion per year, or 2% of UK GDP.

But those figures don’t tell the whole picture. The full effect on individual women, particularly increasing numbers who are trying to move back into the workforce after a period of absence and who want to gain new skills, is largely unknown.

Neither is there a full understanding of what the gendered skills gap means for businesses seeking more skilled workers.

The research will be conducted under the directorship of Dame Ruth Silver and carried out in conjunction with the Associate Parliamentary Skills Group chaired by Gordon Marsden MP. The research is being supported by the City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development.

Over the course of the nine-month research, the National Skills Forum will:

  • Examine the reality of the UK’s gender skills gap for women and businesses

  • Analyse current public, business and political perceptions on the issue

  • Consider the role and impact of current Government policy

  • Raise awareness of the existence of a gendered skills gap

  • Set out key policy recommendations for how Government can address the issues.

Key questions the National Skills Forum research will aim to answer include:

  • What do women feel are the current barriers preventing them from gaining new skills or improving their existing skills (‘upskilling’)?

  • How is the skills deficit facing women affecting UK productivity levels?

  • How is the skills deficit affecting UK business in general?

During the next 3 months, the National Skills Forum will talk to:

  • a range of female employees from a cross-section of cultural, educational and career backgrounds to ask them about their experiences

  • 18 MPs and peers from all major parties to explore their views and awareness of current training for female workers in their local areas

  • around 10 leading employers including Dolland & Aitchison and The Association of Accounting Technicians, to see what impact the gender skill gap is having on their businesses and how government legislation is affecting them.

NSF researchers will be looking at a range of individual female case-studies and asking them about:

  • their personal stories of training success and how, where and why they accessed support

  • their first-hand experience of training options open to them

  • what barriers they had to overcome to get the skills, and ultimately, the jobs and careers they wanted

  • what positive and negative impacts they feel government policies have had on their efforts to improve their skills.

This will then inform the final phase of research which will involve a roundtable of experts in the skills sector to discuss the evidence from the interview and inquiry stages and to assist in the drawing up of key recommendations that will feed into the final report to be published in February 2009.

Katherine Chapman, manager of the National Skills Forum, said: “Quite rightly, both the government and opposition parties recognise the importance of driving forward the skills agenda.

“Although we have heard a lot about the pay gap between men and women, we need to start talking about the gendered skills gap that we know women are facing.

“Skills policy can have a profound impact on women’s lives, their ability to access job opportunities as well as on economic productivity.

“We already know businesses want better skilled workers. We also know that many women who want to improve their skills after taking career breaks and get back into the workplace are being frustrated.

“This timely piece of research by the National Skills Forum will help us understand what policy makers need to do to help start to bridge that gap.”

Dame Ruth Silver added: “We already know that a significant gap exists in terms of pay and opportunities between men and women and that, by far, women end up with a worse deal than men.

“What this work sets out to do is to begin the urgent task of understanding the gap in skills between men and women, how that affects women’s lives and careers and what we need to do to tackle it to allow women a fairer chance in the job market.”

More information can be found here.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!