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Training Gap ‘Costing UK Dear’


Britain's employers must act quickly to close the training divide between graduate and unskilled workers if Britain is to compete successfully in the global economy, according to a new TUC report.

Time to tackle the training divide analyses the latest available official data for training take up in the UK to show that last year 41% of graduate employees took part in work-based learning compared to only 12% of their colleagues who left school without any qualifications.

A range of Government initiatives aimed at low and unskilled workers have helped narrow the training divide in recent years, but much more needs to be done if social inequality is not to get worse, according to the report.

It highlights the fact that over a third of UK employers (35%) fail to offer their staff any training at work, and says this is a key reason why the UK has such a long way to go before it has a highly-skilled workforce.

The report also looks at international research from the OECD, which suggests that those leaving school in the UK with no qualifications will only receive around a fifth of the training offered to their graduate colleagues over their working lives. Low and unskilled workers will only be involved in 103 hours of job-related training, while employees who went to university before starting out in the world of work can look forward to around 480 hours at work before they retire.

The OECD research also compares the training offered by UK employers with the learning opportunities on offer to workers in OECD countries. The 103 hours of training courses that workers without any formal qualifications will attend in the UK is in stark contrast to the overall OECD average of 210 hours available to low-skilled workers elsewhere. In a league table looking at the training of unskilled workers, the UK comes 12th in the list of 18 OECD countries that could provide comparative statistics.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “The Government needs to get tough with employers who believe that training at work need not be something that concerns them. If the GovernmentÕs skills pledge is going to change employer attitudes to training, ministers need to convince reluctant bosses of the urgent need to train their low and unskilled employees.”


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