Policy-makers across industrialized nations have sought to increase participation in work-related training as a route to improved competitiveness. However, research conducted in Britain during the 1990s identified significant differences in participation, suggesting that processes of labour market polarization were being played out in unequal access to training. This article updates and builds upon this work through an analysis of British Labour Force Survey data. The analysis sought to assess continuing inequalities in work-related training, comparing the experiences of samples of public and private sector employees, in order to identify evidence of polarized access to skills development opportunities. The study also sought to establish if union representation increased participation and reduced inequalities in access to training. It was found that older workers, the lower skilled and unqualified, part-timers and temporary workers (among others) remained disadvantaged. Trade union presence had powerful positive effects on participation and reduced some inequalities, especially in the private sector.
- labour markets
- trade unions