Vocational pay gap, women earn 15% less than men

TUC finds young women earn on average only £8.50 an hour against £10 for men – a wider pay gap than for workers with academic qualifications

The TUC found men between 22 and 30 with a vocational qualification above GCSE level earn £10 per hour on average, compared with £8.50 for women. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA
The TUC found men between 22 and 30 with a vocational qualification above GCSE level earn £10 per hour on average, compared with £8.50 for women. Photograph: Joe Giddens/PA

Young women with vocational qualifications earn 15% less than their male peers, a significantly bigger pay gap than for those with academic qualifications, according to new research.

Men aged between 22 and 30 with a vocational qualification above GCSE level earn on average £10 an hour, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found in an analysis of official figures. Women with the same qualification level earn only £8.50 per hour.

The 15% difference was higher than the gender pay gap of 10% between young men and women with academic qualifications. It was also higher than an overall gender pay gap of 9%, calculated from figures for gross hourly pay for workers aged between 22 and 30.

The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said young women with vocational qualifications experience a “huge gender pay gap”, partly because they work predominantly in sectors where pay is poorer.

“In better-paid sectors like engineering and construction [women] remain a rarity,” she said. “Unless we challenge gender stereotyping and discrimination from the outset, the situation is not going to improve. Unions, employers and government must work together to provide better careers advice in schools and to support and improve training opportunities for all young people.”

The TUC analysis found that in 2015, just one in 40 vocational qualifications in construction were awarded to women and they received just 11% of vocational qualifications in engineering and manufacturing. By contrast, in health and care, women dominate with 63.6% of vocational qualifications.

The government has been promoting vocational qualifications to tackle skills shortages and has vowed to create 3m apprenticeships by the end of the decade. But a recent report claimed women were not benefiting from apprenticeships as much as men.

The report last month from the Young Women’s Trust found that although more women were now entering apprenticeships than men, they were paid less than their male counterparts and were less likely to go on to gain employment. The charity said the main reason was that women were still underrepresented within male-dominated sectors, which tend to be better paid and have better career prospects.

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