Vale & West Chartered Accountants Blog

Apprenticeship levy must be more flexible

The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) have taken up a recommendation to broaden the apprenticeship levy so that it can be used as a training and skills levy to give women more opportunities in the jobs market.

To support this, the APPG has launched a new toolkit, entitled How to recruit women for the 21st century, which contains numerous practical recommendations for increasing gender equality at work.

The report highlights the importance of confidence-building initiatives, such as mentoring, to help overcome the issues faced by female returners and maternity returners, as well as the “self-belief slump” suffered by girls in secondary school.

It also cites figures from Girlguiding UK which show that girls’ confidence that they will succeed in the workplace declines from 86 per cent at primary school to just 35 per cent by the end of secondary school.

The report also calls on the Government to ensure that firms publishing gender pay gap data break this down according to categories such as ethnicity, disability and age, so it is apparent how different forms of discrimination impact on each other. To illustrate this, it gives examples of how some women often face multiple levels of discrimination, such as black women, women with disabilities and Muslim women.

The toolkit promotes pay transparency and salary being advertised according to bands rather than advertised as being negotiated according to previous earnings, which just perpetuates inequality.

Other recommendations in the report include promoting sponsorship programmes and mentoring and ensuring greater training and development opportunities for self-employed women.

One speaker at the launch said it was important that flexible working is made available to all, pointing out that if flexible working is not the default approach, then there is no equality in the workplace.

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