The Learning and Skills Council has announced a £20m fund for businesses in sectors such as engineering and construction to train women to the equivalent of two A-levels in vocational skills.

The Train to Gain Level 3 pilot will be rolled-out in London, offering businesses free and impartial advice and funding to deliver training at a time and place to suit them, allowing women to train on the job.

According to the Women and Work Commission Report released last year, the UK economy could benefit by between £15bn and £23bn each year if gender segregation in the workplace is tackled. The LSC are using the investment to target sectors including business and finance, manufacturing, transport, logistics, ICT and management, as well as engineering.
The LSC said that at present, women represent just 16 per cent of managers and senior officials in full-time jobs, so one of the aims of the pilot is to get more women who work in these industries to train to a higher level so that they can take up more senior positions.

Philippa Langton, regional director for skills at the 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 to 74 per cent nationally. A large portion of Londoners not currently working are women, particularly lone parents.

‘Londoners need to get some of the really fantastic job opportunities that are taking place in London, such as Crossrail, where 70,000 – 170,000 high level jobs are predicted, as well at the 2012 Olympic Games. With the appropriate training and support, women could move up and take on those high level jobs – there is a lot of wasted talent in our society at the moment.’

Skills minister David Lammy highlighted the benefits for business owners: ‘The business benefits are clear. Employers will receive support and funding to help them train their employees at a place and time convenient to them. By investing in their employees they will be encouraging better business performance, higher levels of staff retention and motivation.’