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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Train to Gain

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

At a seminar held to highlight the success of the Train to Gain programme Meg gave the following remarks.


I’m pleased to be here to help raise awareness of the Train to Gain pilot in London.


It’s important we make more progress in improving employment, skills and training opportunities for women. Further improving these areas would make such a difference to the skills gaps and occupational segregation issues that we face at work.  


It’s in all our interests to remove barriers to women working in occupations traditionally done by men. Encouraging women into higher skilled, higher paid jobs helps the economy to grow - there’s more jobs, more wealth created and we ensure women have more opportunities to reach their full potential.


Increasing women’s participation in the labour market could be worth between £15 billion and £23 billion per year.


Today girls are doing well in education, but we need to do more to keep this level of attainment through into employment. Too many young women waste their educational achievements by entering lower skilled, lower paid jobs. It is important to do what we can to help girls maximise their potential, that they make the career choices that are right for them.


We know that at present women working part-time earn around 40% less than men working full-time per hour worked. The Towards a Fairer Future report highlighted the lack of quality part-time work as being both a constraint on women’s choice of occupation and a reason women’s skills are under-utilised. 


We are taking forward the recommendations of the Women and Work Commission as outlined in Towards a Fairer Future. For example, we are funding projects from across the private, public and voluntary sectors from the £500,000 Quality Part-Time Work Fund designed to improve the availability of quality part-time work opportunities. 


Investing in Training and Skills is Important

Skills are an important part of economic success, whether for the individual, the business or the national economy. We need to improve the range of skills of those already in work and those who are currently unemployed or economically inactive.


Investing in skills and training is important for the individual, particularly for women. Not providing women with access to training they need keeps the economy operating below its productive potential. We already know from the Leitch Review of Skills, published last year, that investing in skills helps economic growth, productivity and social inclusion.


We expect to publish the government's response to the Leitch Review of Skills shortly. Last week we announced the launch of the Skills Pledge in England, celebrating the first tranche of top employers to make the Skills Pledge which committed them to train their staff to at least Level 2 in the workplace.


As the Women and Work Commission made clear, ‘getting it right early on’ is vital for girls and young women. We are working on the whole process - through careers information, advice and guidance, new diplomas, work placements and apprenticeships to help girls make informed  choices in terms of skills and training.


For example, the new national standards for young people’s information, advice and guidance will be published this July. This will include the need for providers to challenge gender stereotypes and traditional ideas on learning and training.  


A Range of Projects

We are working with employers through their Sector Skills Councils to develop a range of projects that will provide women with the skills, confidence and mentoring they need to succeed in male dominated occupations. This includes training for a new career, and personal development programmes to help women progress to supervisory, managerial or higher-level technical roles, or self employment.


The Women and Work Sector Pathway Initiative (say that with your mouth full!) - will provide £10million over a two year period from April 2006 for Sector Skills Councils. It will be matched by employers, and will test potential pathways to increase recruitment and progression opportunities, benefiting up to 10,000 women. Four of the nine participating Sector Skills Councils have opportunities for women working within their sector in London.


We have the Train to Gain service, operated nationally by the Learning and Skills Council. The £20 million is being used to purchase a total of 10,000 places in provision by 2008. This will engage women at a disadvantage in the labour market at Level 3, especially in occupational areas where women are under-represented. 


DfES have introduced an additional pilot in London through the Train to Gain service targeted at bringing women from disadvantaged backgrounds into the labour market. In light of the capital’s skills needs, the London pilot is additionally targeting the sectors of Engineering, Construction and Transport and Logistics. 


The national Train to Gain Service has been a real success. Although figures for the London Level 3 pilot are not yet available, the latest statistics for the national Train to Gain service show that 5,780 women in London have started learning through the service since April 2006.


Ensuring that women have the knowledge, skills and confidence to enter and progress throughout their working life is important:

  • it’s important to women - entering and succeeding in the job you are drawn to is a boost to the individuals confidence,
  • it’s important to employers - women can do the skilled jobs that are currently in such demand, and
  • it’s important to the economy - more and better paid jobs, more wealth created.

Thank you for inviting me here this morning.

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