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Women to take two-thirds of high-skilled roles over next six years

An increase in the gap between women's and men's qualifications will see women take two-thirds of high-skilled jobs across the next six years, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

The report, UK Skills and International Competitiveness, predicts that by 2020 49% of women will have degree-level qualifications, up from 38% today.

For men the proportion with this level of qualifications is also predicted to increase, but at a slower rate. It currently stands at 36% and UKCES claims it will reach 44% in the next six years.

The prediction of women who are not educated to GCCE level will fall across the same period, from 24% to 15%. For men the drop will only be three percentage points, from 23% to 20%.

UKCES research manager Peter Glover told HR magazine the body sees the trend as "generally positive".

"We see it as a good thing as it will drive competitiveness in a high-skilled workforce," he said. "But it would be good to see the men up their game in the next few years."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady warned that there is work to be done to get high-skilled women in the right place to benefit the labour market.

"The increased disparity between men’s and women’s skill levels is concerning for both sexes," she said.

"Men are finding it harder to get skilled jobs, while for many women their higher qualifications are not leading to better pay and jobs.

"Tackling inequality in skills, qualifications and pay, and for both sexes, is essential if we are to have a prosperous and stable future.”