Unionlearn, the TUC’s learning and skills organisation, has condemned “shocking” statistics from the UK Employer Skills Survey showing that 41% of UK employers did not train any of their staff in 2011.
Frances O'Grady, TUC deputy general secretary called on employers to ensure those from minorities and the disadvantaged, in particular, don't miss out on training opportunities in the workplace.
She said: "It seems that the lion's share of development opportunities has gone to high-flyers and far too many ordinary workers have missed out - for example, part-time workers, carers, older workers, and disabled workers.
"Access to learning is an equality issue, and the barriers to learning people face go a long way to explaining why this country remains such an unequal place. Regardless of age, race, gender, class, sexuality or any disability, each and every worker should enjoy an equal chance to refresh their skills or learn something new at work.
"But there is also the economic case to be made. Unlock the talents and skills of your workforce, let them learn and you will be repaid by increased motivation, retention rates and lower sickness levels, not to mention a better skilled workforce. So I am calling upon each and every employer to make sure that each and every one of their workers has an opportunity to learn."
O'Grady was speaking at "Access to Learning: An Equalities Issue?" - a Unionlearn seminar held in central London, where trade union equality reps, equality officers and education providers met to discuss how learning impacts on equalities issues. She was joined by Unionlearn director Tom Wilson and Maggie Galliers, Principal of Leicester College and the event was chaired by Gail Cartmail, Assistant General Secretary, Unite the Union. The seminar focused on exploring equality and learning issues that currently affect access to learning opportunities, including: low numbers of Black and Ethnic minority apprentices, occupational segregation issues for young female apprentices, lack of funding for workplace ESOL English for Speakers of Other Languages) provision, and issues faced by disabled workers.
Unionlearn is urging employers to break down the barriers to learning, which many of England's disadvantaged and low earners face in trying to improve their lot. The seminar was organised to highlight the positive effect that learning has on creating tolerance and fighting prejudice in the workplace, but also to examine how to improve access to learning.
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