Lowest-paid get least skills training

December 8, 1995

Britain's training system is producing a "skills underclass" by reinforcing rather than bridging the skills gap between the high-paid and the low-paid, according to a survey by the Commission on Public Policy and British Business.

Employee Training, the first report of the commission, which was established by the Institute for Public Policy Research in April, shows that those most in need of training are least likely to get it.

Some 26 per cent of employees with degrees reported receiving training in one four-week period compared to barely 4 per cent of individuals with no qualifications. In one 12-month period, half of those with degrees received training compared to a sixth of employees with no qualifications.

Report authors, London University economists Stephen Machin and David Wilkinson, said that this reveals that "training acts to widen the skills gaps by adding to the human capital of those who are already relatively highly skilled."

The commission found that working for a relatively large employer markedly increases the likelihood of receiving training, as does working for an employer which recognises trade unions for collective bargaining purposes.

It notes that "good jobs" occur where the job turnover is low and where individuals have increased opportunities to upgrade their skills.

Employee Training: Unequal Access and Economic Performance by Stephen Machin and David Wilkinson. From IPPR, 30-32 Southampton Street, London WC2E 7RA. Price Pounds 3.50.

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