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 and the Skills for Business Network

How the Sector Skills Councils are Addressing Diversity
        and Some Good Practice Case Studies

                 GHK Consulting

                  January 2006
Contents ................................................................................ 2
Glossary of Abbreviations and Acronyms .......................................... 5
Executive Summary .................................................................. 6
Part A: The Network and Diversity .............................................. 14
Diversity: the current picture ...................................................... 15
How the SSCs Address Key Diversity Issues ....................................... 28
Lessons Learned ...................................................................... 52
Part B: Good Practice Case Studies .............................................. 59
New standard for diversity in policing ............................................ 60
From the desk to the road .......................................................... 63
Promoting diverse talent in the media ........................................... 66
Jobs for the girls ..................................................................... 69
Talking with tenants ................................................................. 72
Tailoring not only for clothes ...................................................... 75
Stepping into Construction ......................................................... 78
Women for modern rural enterprise .............................................. 81
A plum role for women .............................................................. 84
Re-engineering for gender balance ................................................ 87
Food for thought ..................................................................... 90

List of tables
 1       SSC Coverage                                                             18
 2     Employment rate by ethnic group and gender                                 21
 3     Employment rate by occupational group and gender                           22
 4     Workforce diversity and opportunities for flexible working by sector       26
 5     Extent of formal HR planning and of skills shortages                       27
 6     Overview of diversity issues                                               30
 7     Selected sectors with under-representation by age                          40

List of figures
 1       Economic activity by gender       (thousands,   seasonally   adjusted)   19
         (Summer 2004 – Summer 2005)
 2     Economic activity by ethnic group                                          20
 3     Gender pay gap (1998-2005)                                                 44


The views expressed in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Department, or any individual body associated with this

Thanks to ConstructionSkills for supplying the picture for the front cover.

Glossary of Abbreviations
and Acronyms
BME    Black and Minority Ethnic
DoH    Department of Health
DTI    Department of Trade and Industry
EOC    Equal Opportunities Commission
FE     Further Education
HE     Higher Education
LMI    Labour Market Intelligence
LSDA   Learning and Skills Development Agency
NDPB   Non-Departmental Public Body
NOS    National Occupational Standards
NTO    National Training Organisation
QCA    Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
RDA    Regional Development Agency
SfB    Skills for Business
SfBN   Skills for Business network
SSC    Sector Skills Council
SSDA   Sector Skills Development Agency
SSA    Sector Skills Agreement
TUC    Trades Union Congress

Executive Summary
Sector Skills Councils, working with others, have a key role
promoting „what works‟ for employers in terms of diversity, while
also tackling the skills infrastructure. They can make the case for
diversity, support targeted training, and embed diversity
strategically through occupational standards, qualifications
frameworks and the labour market intelligence that shapes future
priorities at sector-level. It is early days in terms of translating this
potential into established reality, although there are some
excellent programmes already in place and foundations of future
activity emerging.
Diversity remains a significant issue across the UK labour market overall and within
specific sectors. An analysis of current labour market data shows significant imbalances
in the overall composition of the workforce. There is under-representation of women,
BME groups and disabled people, as well as imbalances in the age profile of the
Women and BME groups remain under-represented in specific occupations, especially
management and professional roles. The gender pay gap also remains a cause for
concern. Contributing to these imbalances is the unavailability of flexible working
practices, such as part-time working and job sharing, which make work more accessible
to a diverse population.
This report shows that these issues are „live‟ at sector level and are therefore critical
to the work programmes of particular Sector Skills Councils (SSCs). For example:
o While the female share of employment has risen to 46% in the overall workforce, in
  11 out of the 22 SSC sectors for which data was available at the time of the
  research, women still comprise a third or less of the workforce. Key sectors in terms
  of the under-representation of women include construction (12% female
  employment), the retail motor industry (20%), passenger transport (21%) and
  logistics (21%).
o At least six of the 22 sectors indicate significant BME under-representation, although
  it is difficult to be more concrete owing to data limitations and the situation is likely
  to be more widespread. The six sectors where this is a known issue are construction
  (97% white), creative and cultural industries (96% white), energy and utilities (96%
  white), land-based industries (99% white), science, engineering and manufacturing
  (96% white), and active leisure and learning (97% white). This compares to 93% white
  across the economically active population.
o In 16 sectors, the proportion of women in management roles is lower than the
  overall proportion of female representation within the sector. By way of contrast, in
  18 out of the 22 sectors, women comprise at least three quarters of administrative
  and secretarial staff.

o The availability of part-time working varies considerably, ranging from over 40% of
  the workforce in four sectors to less than a quarter of the workforce in 14 sectors
  (including all of those in which women are under-represented). Flexitime is
  uncommon outside most of the public sector SSC footprints. The availability of other
  forms of flexible work organisation, such as job sharing, term-time working, and
  nine-day fortnights is negligible across all sectors.
The Role of the SSCs
These issues are critical for the SSCs and the Skills for Business network (SfBN) because
of the strong business imperative in supporting diversity. This relates to a need for
employers to maximise the full potential of their workforce, as well as the need to
address potential skills gaps and shortages. The business case for diversity, as it is
known, is based around improvements in products and services, through improved staff
retention, customer service, and a better capitalisation of knowledge.
As the „employer voice‟ on skills issues, the Skills for Business network brings a
demand-centred approach to improving productivity through skills. It therefore has the
„business case‟ at its heart. The network also has a high-level priority of ‟increasing the
opportunities for everyone in the sector‟s workforce‟. Diversity is therefore embedded
within the network‟s strong employer focus and all of the SSCs interviewed for this
study recognised that diversity was an issue within their sectors and considered it to be
a priority area.
Overall, 20 out the 23 SSCs interviewed could point to some diversity activity in which
they were engaged. The remaining three SSCs were all on the cusp of receiving their
license to operate, so it may be expected that wider involvement in diversity issues will
follow in time. However, it is still „early days‟ for many SSCs in terms of the scale and
breadth of the activity they are undertaking.
Using Sector Skills Agreements to Promote Diversity
One of the key roles of the SSCs is to develop Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) on
workforce and skills issues. This is critical to making the case for diversity, and a key
area in which SSCs can add value. The positive finding is that the SSCs seem to be using
the Sector Skills Agreement (SSA) process to produce – and act upon – a more
systematic analysis of LMI. Importantly, it also sets the diversity of a sector‟s workforce
within an analysis of future sector skills needs.
Only four of the SSCs have so far produced SSAs: ConstructionSkills, e-Skills UK, SEMTA
and Skillset. The early evidence from these SSCs is that the SSA process not only
provides the means for developing a more robust picture of diversity; it also, perhaps
as a result, leads to more concerted action. For example, e-Skills UK includes an area
of activity based around rolling out its Computer Clubs for Girls pilot (case study 4)
nationally, including a commitment to government funding for the programme and
ambitious targets for its implementation. ConstructionSkills includes an action based
around „attracting diverse recruits through employment projects‟. This includes
targeting funding for apprenticeships at atypical groups, while at the same time
encouraging employers to commit to construction employment projects and ensuring
that large employers commit to diverse recruitment through the supply chain (case
study 7). It is expected that as other SSAs are published, these too will feature
strategic initiatives to address core issues in relation to the recruitment of a non-
traditional workforce.

Current SSC Activities
The study includes case studies on a sample of 11 SSCs, which show that the Skills for
Business network is already tackling many of the key diversity challenges at sector
level. These fit into six main themes:
      Promoting the business case for diversity: SummitSkills has been involved in a
       project (Aquatec, case study 9) to provide flexible training to unemployed
       women to become plumbers and therein enhance customer service for a key
       employer in Wales, enabling it to offer women-only teams to clients.
       Improve‟s managing diversity seminars support and facilitate the sharing of good
       practice on the recruitment and integration of an increasingly non-UK workforce
       in the food and drink sector. The seminars promote the idea that employers
       providing initial support, such as ESOL and cultural awareness training, can
       improve staff retention and business performance (case study 11).
      Policies to improve the overall gender balance within the sector: Initiatives
       to address women‟s under-representation form a major part of the SSC activity
       to date. There are initiatives to attract girls and young women to choose a
       future career in non-traditional industries. For example, SEMTA‟s long-running
       WISE campaign uses the provision of Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG),
       marketing and various „taster‟ options to promote science and engineering
       careers (case study 10). e-skills UK‟s Computer Clubs for Girls programme
       attempts to tackle gender stereotyping in relation to IT by targeting 10-14 year
       old girls through after-school clubs (case study 4). There are even more
       examples of initiatives to attract women into the current workforce, typically
       through the provision of targeted, supported training. For example, Skills for
       Logistics has been involved in the Women with Wheels project in Scotland to
       encourage more women to become LGV drivers – using SSC research to
       understand the nature of „real‟ and „unreal‟ barriers for both employers and
       women and developing a training course to address these barriers (case study
      Policies to improve the overall ethnic balance within a sector: There is less
       SSC activity specifically targeting ethnicity than targeting gender, although it is
       important to note that not all diversity activity is aimed at a specific group
       anyway. Skillset‟s Millennium Awards and Open Doors projects reflect a need
       within the broadcasting industry to cater for BME groups as viewers of an
       increasing number of specialist TV channels. As a talent search among BME
       groups led by the SSC, the work programmes provide the practical training
       (through work placements, careers advice and mentoring) that is essential for
       entering the industry (case study 3). Another initiative with a strong BME focus
       (although also targeting women) is ConstructionSkills‟ STEP into Construction
       initiative. Driven by projected skills shortages, it uses a locally delivered
       flexible fund to incentivise employers to take on a more diverse workforce (case
       study 7).
      Supporting women into management: There are a couple of examples of SSCs
       supporting women into management, in both cases focusing on smaller
       employers. Skillfast-UK (case study 6) and Lantra (case study 8) both run Women
       into Management programmes at a local / regional level. They provide bite-
       sized, tailored learning to women already working in the textiles or land-based
       industries to become business leaders and support innovation or diversification
       in those sectors. The approaches use networking and mentoring, meaning that

       participants can go on to support other women into leading roles within
      Improving HR planning and diversity management: There is a significant
       volume of SSC work relating to improving HR and business planning among
       employers, particularly SMEs. While much of this does not have an explicit
       diversity focus, there are potential „spin off‟ benefits from employers
       incorporating more robust recruitment and planning processes. SSCs are also
       involved in promoting good practice though awards and recognition schemes
       related to good diversity practice. They use HR and diversity toolkits, workshops
       for employers and training for employees to support better HR and diversity
       practice. For example, Asset Skills developed a multi-cultural communications
       course for the housing sector, to ensure that Local Authorities and Housing
       Associations can provide an effective service to tenants from diverse cultures
       (case study 5).
      Providing additional support (e.g. for child care) and flexibility to enable
       wider labour market access: A cross-cutting aspect of many of the SSC-led
       initiatives relates to how training is tailored to meet the needs of specific
       groups. Lantra‟s Women in Management programme takes account of time and
       family commitments and is delivered around a „child friendly‟ timetable (case
       study 8). The SummitSkills Aquatec project also covered childcare expenses for
       participants (case study 9), as did the similar Ambition Energy programme run
       by Energy & Utility Skills in Scotland targeting lone parents.
Potential Impact of the SSC Work
Many of the current SSC activities are relatively small-scale, project-based
interventions. They tend to based at a local or regional level and undertaken in
partnership with key actors, such as RDAs, training providers and major employers. In
some cases, the SSC is not in the lead role. Instead it may be acting as a technical
expert or a conduit for employer involvement. While the project-based work is likely to
be highly beneficial to individuals firms and employees, it is unlikely in itself to have a
wider impact on the employment profile of the sector and the resulting skills shortages
faced by employers.
In contrast, there are fewer current examples of strategic interventions with a strong
diversity focus, although it is arguable that some of the SSCs‟ wider activities (such as
supporting HR development and labour market analysis) will impact on diversity. The
SSCs also have a key role in terms of ensuring that apprenticeship frameworks and
occupational standards have wide currency, relevance and fit employer needs. There is
therefore the potential to ensure that diversity is at the heart of them. For example,
Skills for Justice has been involved in developing national occupational standards for
the police that incorporate diversity and equality (case study 1). Critically, the SSC has
worked to ensure that the language of the standards is meaningful to police officers on
the ground and its introduction has been part of a wider cultural change programme.
SSCs have a role in actively working with the Regional Skills Partnership process. This
presents a real opportunity to include diversity and at least one of the major diversity
initiatives (case study 4 on computer clubs for girls) started as a sectoral/regional
partnership before being rolled out Nationally.
The case studies also show that SSCs can impact on diversity in a variety of ways:
      through the promotion of flexibility in the delivery of training
      promoting the business case for diversity and flexible working

   capturing and communicating good practice
   promoting positive role models and mentors
   providing LMI so diversity initiatives can be effectively targeted.
   encouraging buy-in and credibility for any diversity issue through their
    relationship with employers
   SSCs can also play a more strategic role in terms of advising employers in the
    sector on other HR practices, such as the non-traditional routes to recruiting a
    diverse workforce
   some project-based initiatives also have the potential for roll-out across the
    sector nationally to effectively become more strategic interventions, especially
    as part of the SSA process. For example, the Computer Clubs for Girls
    programme now has a target of engaging 150,000 girls from 3,600 schools by
    2007/8, an ambition that could have a significant impact for generations to

SSC Good practice lessons for addressing key diversity issues
      Driving the demand for diversity
      Tacking diversity is more effective as part of a wider cultural change process
       (Skills for Justice).
      Where there is an apparent business case for diversity, SSCs can facilitate the
       sharing of good practice: building employer confidence that potential solutions
       already exist; improving employer understanding of the issues; encouraging a
       pro-active approach and offering simple solutions that are adaptable to each
       business (Improve).
      Improving the balance of the overall gender or ethnic composition of the
      Using research on individual and employer perceptions to shape training
       programmes that specifically target non-traditional groups (Skills for Logistics)
      The key lessons for successful project-based interventions are that they are
       based around a robust business case, involving employers from the start and
       with strong industry backing (e-skills UK).
      SSCs can play an active role in „talent spotting‟ and helping to identify those
       from non-traditional groups with the real potential to add value to employers,
       therein facilitating employer demand for a diverse workforce (Skillset).
      Offering employers a flexible, non-bureaucratic incentive to attract non-
       traditional groups can help to boost the demand for a diverse workforce. Locally
       delivered funding that can be tailored to the needs of each individual is an
       effective approach (ConstructionSkills).
      Having a qualification attached to a training programme was something many
       women coming from an office background found attractive in the context of
       Women with Wheels (Skills for Logistics)
      Directly linking industry specialists up with schools to provide role models to
       future generations and a real flavour of what can be achieved in a career in a
       non-traditional industry (e-Skills UK and SEMTA).

SSC Good practice lessons for addressing key diversity issues
      Improving representation within specific occupations
      The identification of potential candidates for women into management schemes
       is critical, and the involvement of employers can help to ensure that training is
       targeting women in the sector who have the potential and the opportunity to
       move into management roles (Skillfast-UK).
      Effective management training has to be customised to the individual, the
       business and sector. Tools such as psychometric assessment and mentoring can
       help to ensure that training builds on the skills participants already have
      Bite-sized and short course modules are often effective approaches for
       individuals who are already working in the sector. This also provides flexibility
       for those with caring commitments (Lantra; Skillfast-UK).
      The opportunity for networking is often a crucial component in women in
       management schemes (Skillfast UK; Lantra).
      Making work organisation more amenable to a diverse population
      When undertaking diversity training for employees, the skills and experience of
       the facilitator are critical for providing „real life‟ examples and practical tips
       that will benefit staff, for example by improving conflict resolution skills (Asset
      A sensitive but important component to supporting increased diversity
       awareness is to provide tools and a non-judgemental setting to enable staff to
       question their perceptions, prejudices and cultural assumptions (Skills for
       Justice; Asset Skillls)
      Ensuring that assessment guides and tools to support diversity can bridge the
       gap between theory and practical on-the-ground reality is another important
       factor (Skills for justice).
      Training should be local, delivered along a child-friendly timetable and short-
       term in order to have successful recruitment and retention (Lantra). Providing
       support with transport and childcare can also make the difference for those
       with caring responsibilities (Energy & Utility Skills; SummitSkills).
      Positive role models and mentors can champion the benefits to other employees

This Report
The main body of this report explores these issues in more detail. It is divided into two
      Part A provides an analysis of the work of the Skills for Business network in
       relation to diversity
           o   Chapter 1 provides an overview of the current picture in relation to
               diversity at national and sector level.
           o   Chapter 2 looks in turn at each of the main diversity issues, summarising
               the nature and extent of the issue, the degree to which the issue is being
               addressed by the SSCs and examples of SSC activity.
           o   Chapter 3 discusses some of the wider issues for SSCs in tackling diversity
               issues, including some of the barriers they face, organisational issues and
               measuring the impact of the work being undertaken. It also draws
               together some key lessons from the SSCs and partners.
      Part B presents 11 case studies on tackling diversity issues at sector level,
       focusing on the work of different SSCs, their partners and employers.

Part A: The Network and

Diversity: the current
Diversity is about valuing the visible and non-visible similarities and differences
between people, such as gender, race and ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation
and religion. In an employment context, it can be defined as: „a strategy to promote
values, behaviour and working practices which recognise the difference between
people and, as a result, enhance staff motivation and performance and release
potential, delivering improved services to customers‟1. Diversity therefore goes beyond
the traditional focus on equal opportunities, which attempts to prevent/eliminate
discrimination – typically through legislation and with a focus on compliance.
Diversity in employment is a critical issue – and an important aspiration – for a variety
of reasons. At the heart of attempts to improve the productivity of the UK economy is
an assumption that employers are:
       maximising the potential of their workforce
       employing the best potential employees.
In short, it is critical that employers maximise their skills base. A key challenge has
been that access to employment in some areas and opportunities for progression within
employment have not been open to all. Particular groups have historically been
disadvantaged and, in some cases, faced discrimination.
Fundamentally, the diversity approach is part of enabling all individuals, irrespective of
their background or circumstances, to fulfil their potential. It is therefore an important
part of a progressive society. And as the definition above implies, it can lead to
improved business performance.
Aims and objectives of the research
The main aim of this research was to look at how the Skills for Business network (based
around 25 Sector Skills Councils, or SSCs) is addressing diversity issues in practice, with
particular emphasis on women and Black and Minority Ethnic groups (BME). The study
objectives were as follows:
       Assess whether diversity is an important issue within each of the SSC sector
       Assess whether the SSCs promote the business case for diversity;

 RR Thomas, Beyond Race and Gender. Unleashing the Power of Your Total Work Force by Managing
Diversity. New York: AMACOM: 1992.

       Find out what SSCs are doing to help employers recruit and/or retain women
        and/or BME groups – especially in sectors where there is a bias in terms of
        gender or ethnicity.
The research took place from late August to mid November 2005. It comprised of three
       1) Desk research: An assessment of publicly available material relating to each
        SSC, including business plans, annual reports and, where relevant, Sector Skills
        Agreements. There was also an LMI assessment undertaken to assess the scale of
        the issue in each sector.
       2) Initial scoping interviews with the SSCs: The diversity lead (or most
        appropriate contact) within each SSC was interviewed by telephone in order to
        capture the main contextual information for the study, including: how the SSC
        manages diversity; the degree to which the SSC considered diversity to be a key
        issue for the sector and the nature of those issues; plus, an outline of the
        component parts of the SSCs work on diversity (including the capacity in which
        it is working in partnership with others); and the SSCs reflections on wider issues
        such as the most effective way to communicate diversity messages to employers
        and other audiences.
       3) Case studies focusing on specific SSC activity in relation to diversity: On
        the basis of the findings from the scoping and the desk research it was possible
        to draw up a representative sample of „SSC activities‟ in relation to diversity
        that could be assessed in more depth, both as examples of good and emerging
        practice and to provide further insight into the SSC role in tackling the complex
        and varied diversity-related challenges. Stakeholder interviews were also
        undertaken with the EOC, TUC, Employers for Work-Life Balance, Business in the
        Community, the LSDA, and the UK Resource Centre for Women in Science,
        Engineering and Technology to support the development of recommendations
        about sharing best practice.
The Skills for Business network
The Skills for Business network (SfBN) provides an „employer voice‟ on skills issues,
particularly in ensuring that the learning infrastructure in the UK meets the needs of
employers. Its ultimate goal is improved productivity. The network is a key part of a
policy shift towards a „demand-led‟ skills agenda, as outlined the 2003 Skills White
Set up in April 2002, the network is comprised of 25 Sector Skills Councils (SSCs), co-
ordinated and supported by the Sector Skills Development Agency (SSDA). Each SSC
represents a strategic sector within the UK economy. Table 1 below provides a list of
the 25 SSCs and a summary of the sector, or „footprint‟, covered by each.

Where diversity fits into the Skills for Business agenda
The Skills for Business network has a critical role to play in promoting diversity,
especially in terms of influencing the learning infrastructure, the education and careers
advisory systems and the „industry mindset‟. As well as being implicit in all four of the
network‟s high level objectives, it is also explicit in the third:

 Department for Education and Skills. 21st Century Skills – Realising our Potential: Individuals, Employers,
Nation. July 2003

       1) Reduce skills gaps and shortages and anticipate future needs through
        leverage on the supply side and help employers and individuals to make
        informed career and personal development choices
       2) Improve productivity, business and public services performance through
        specific strategic actions based on analysis of sectoral priorities
       3) Increase opportunities to develop and improve the productivity of
        everyone in the sector’s workforce including action to address equal
       4) Improve learning supply including the development of apprenticeships, higher
        education and of national occupation standards.
The UK picture in terms of diversity
The SSCs have a UK-wide remit. Yet how much of an issue is diversity in the current UK
labour market context? The picture remains mixed. There have been significant shifts
in terms of the participation of traditionally under-represented groups (e.g. women;
BME groups) over the last 20 years, but significant barriers remain.
It is possible to provide an overview of the state of play – in terms of the UK economy
overall – in relation to the following diversity indicators3:
       Overall labour market participation of different groups
       Participation within different occupations
       The availability of working practices and business practices that support
It is important to see each of these areas in the context of the demand for skills –
which is an important driver for increased diversity, especially in relation to the work
of the SSCs. For example, where employers are facing skills shortages and struggling to
recruit new staff, there is a business imperative on them ensuring the widest possible
supply of labour by attracting non-traditional groups. Across the UK as a whole, 6%4 of
establishments in England report skills shortage vacancies (i.e. jobs that cannot be
filled specifically because of the unavailability of candidates with the required skills).
The equivalent figure is 7%5 in Wales, 5%6 in Scotland and 4%7 in Northern Ireland.

  All figures in this section relate to Labour Force Survey 2004q1-2004q4 unless otherwise indicated.
  LSC, Employers Skills Survey, 2004
  Future Skills Wales, Employers Skills Survey, 2004
  Futureskills Scotland, Skills in Scotland - Employers Skills Survey, 2003
  DELNI, Skills Monitoring Survey, 2002

Table 1: SSC Coverage
              SSC                             Coverage                         SSC                    Coverage
Asset Skills                        Property, housing,             Proskills               Process and manufacturing
                                    cleaning and facilities                                industries
Automotive Skills                   The retail motor industry      SEMTA                   Science, engineering and
                                                                                           manufacturing technologies
CogentPlus                          Chemicals, nuclear, oil        Skillfast-UK            Apparel, footwear and textile
                                    and gas, petroleum and                                 industry
                                    polymer industries
ConstructionSkills                  Construction                   Skills for Care and     Social care, children and young
                                                                   Development             people
Creative & Cultural Skills          Arts, museums and              Government Skills (a)   Central government
                                    galleries, heritage, crafts
                                    and design
Energy & Utility Skills             Electricity, gas, waste        Skills for Health       NHS, independent and
                                    management and water                                   voluntary health organisations
e-Skills UK                         Information technology,        Skills for Justice      Custodial care, community
                                    telecommunications and                                 justice and police
                                    contact centres
Financial Services Skills           Financial services industry    Skills for Logistics    Freight logistics industry
GoSkills                            Passenger transport            SkillsActive            Active leisure and learning

Improve                             Food and drink                 Skillset                Broadcast, film, video,
                                    manufacturing and                                      interactive media and photo
                                    processing                                             imaging
Lantra                              Environmental and land-        Skillsmart Retail       Retail
                                    based industries
Lifelong Learning UK                Community based                SummitSkills            Building services engineering
                                    learning and
                                    development, FE, HE,
                                    library and information
                                    services, work-based
People 1st                          Hospitality, leisure, travel
                                    and tourism
                                                                                                                Source: SSDA
(a) Government Skills in development at time of research

Overall participation
The Labour Force Survey estimates that there are 27,859,720 people in employment in
the UK. There remains a slight imbalance in overall employment in terms of gender, as
54% of the economically active population is male compared with 46% female.
However, the participation of women in the labour market has been increasing for
many years (from 56% in 1971 to 70% in 20058). This compares to a participation rate
of 79% for men.

    Labour Force Survey, Summer 2005

Figure 1 below shows the most recent trends in terms of labour market participation by
gender – and the continuing narrowing of the gap between male and female
participation. It shows that the growth in overall labour market activity from Summer
2004 to Summer 2005 has been entirely driven by an increase in female involvement.

Figure 1: Economic activity by gender (thousands, seasonally adjusted) (Summer
2004 – Summer 2005)

                16,000                                                                                           13,150
                         M ale s


                15,850                                                                                           13,050
                                                                                             Fe m ale s
                15,750                                                                                           13,000

                15,600                                                                                      12,900
                 Summer 2004       Autumn 2004    Winter 2004/05              Spring 2005            Summer 2005

                                                  Males             Females

                                                 Source: Office of National Statistics, Labour Market Statistics July 2005 – First Release

The population is increasingly ethnically diverse. The 2001 census reported that 4.6
million people, 8% of the UK population, are from a BME group. In 1991, the equivalent
figure was 3 million, marking a 53% rise (which is only partly explained by the
additional „mixed‟ response option on the census in 2001).
Yet, as Figure 2 below shows, economic activity rates differ between the BME and the
majority (white) ethnic population (and between different BME populations). The
picture is complex. For example, there are also differences in economic activity rates
within some ethnic groups9. The overall employment rate for BME groups is just
under 60%10, compared with 77% for the majority ethnic population.
Table 2 shows that the employment gap between men and women from BME groups
(67%11 of BME men are in employment; 52% of BME women) is larger than for the
economically active population overall (79% men; 70% women). For the Asian/Asian
British category, in particular, the gap is larger still (70% men; 46% women).
Participation in employment among BME groups also has a regional dimension. While
over a quarter (27%) of the workforce in Greater London is composed of people from
non-white groups, the figure is 2% or less in the North East of England, Scotland and
There is therefore untapped potential that employers can harness – and a series of
complex and sometimes intertwined barriers at play for different ethnic groups in
specific geographical areas and at different points in the education, training and
employment spheres.
  Hepworth M and Spencer G. A Regional Perspective on the Knowledge Economy in Great Britain.
Department of Trade and Industry, 2003.
   Labour Force Survey, Summer 2005
   Labour Force Survey, Summer 2005

Employment rates for people with disabilities are much lower than for other groups.
Only around half (50%12) of working age people defined as long-term disabled13 are
in employment compared with four-fifths (81%) of working age people who are not
long-term disabled.

Figure 2: Economic activity by ethnic group









              a ll o r ig in s   W h it e        A ll e t h n ic      M ix e d           A s ia n o r       B la c k o r   C h in e s e    O th e r
                                                 m in o r it y                            A s ia n           B la c k                     e t h n ic
                                                  g ro u p s                             B r it is h        B r it is h                   g ro u p

                                                                   E c o n . a c t i vi t y r a t e ( % )

                                            Source: Office of National Statistics, Labour Force Survey Historical Quarterly Supplement (Summer, 2005)

     Labour Force Survey, Winter 2004
     i.e. with work-limiting disabilities or DDA current disabled

Table 2: Employment Rate by Ethnic Group and Gender
                                                                                                             (Percent, not seasonally adjusted)

                                       Employment Rate (%)                   Employment Rate (%)                Employment Rate (%) 16-59
                                            16-59/64                               16-64
                                              All Persons                               Male

All                                  75.0%                                79.4%                                70.4%

White (a)                            76.6%                                80.5%                                72.5%

All Ethnic Minority Groups           59.5%                                67.3%                                52.0%

Mixed                                63.8%                                63.1%                                64.4%

Asian or Asian British               57.9%                                69.8%                                45.6%

Black or Black British               62.6%                                67.7%                                58.5%

Chinese                              63.3%                                62.1%                                64.4%

Other Ethnic Group                   56.5%                                62.6%                                50.3%
                                                                               Source: Office for National Statistics, Labour Force Survey, Summer 2005
(a) Figures within this category are presented for Great Britain only and exclude Northern Ireland

Participation within occupations
An important dimension to understanding the current UK picture in relation to diversity
is to look at the breakdown of employment across the major occupational groups, as
there are significant gender disparities within many of the main occupations.
Women are typically concentrated in administrative and secretarial (comprising 82% 14
of the workforce); personal service (83%) and sales and customer service occupations
(70%). However, women are significantly under-represented in skilled trades (7%) and
process/machine operatives (13%). There is also significant under-representation of
women in management. Although comprising 46% of the economically active
population, women make-up only 33% of manager/senior official occupations and 33%
of professional occupations. See Table 3 below.

     Labour Force Survey, Spring 2005

Table 3: Employment Rate by Occupational Group and Gender
                                                                                               (Percentage %)

                                   Proportion of Workforce       Proportion of            Proportion of
                                                               Occupation (Male)       Occupation (Female)

1 Managers and Senior Officials    15.5%                     66.6%                     33.4%

2 Professional occupations         9.6%                      67.5%                     32.5%

3 Associate Professional and       13.5%                     47.9%                     52.2%

4 Administrative and Secretarial   10.8%                     18.0%                     82.0%

5 Skilled Trades Occupations       13.3%                     92.8%                     7.2%

6 Personal Service Occupations     6.6%                      17.0%                     83.1%

7 Sales and Customer Service       9.9%                      30.5%                     69.5%

8 Process Plant and Machine        8.5%                      86.3%                     13.7%

9 Elementary Occupations           12.2%                     57.2%                     42.8%

Total                              100%
                                                                        Source: Labour Force Survey Spring 2005

Working and business practices to support diversity
Flexibility in work organisation is seen as a key component of diversity. It enables a
wider proportion of the population to access employment, particularly those with
caring responsibilities (disproportionately women). Across the economy as a whole, a
quarter of people (26%15) are working part-time, and around three quarters of this
group are women.
Other types of flexible working arrangement are less common. Around 9%16 of all
employees work flexitime. The incidence of job sharing and term-time working is
difficult to quantify accurately because they are negligible (but cover around 0.5%-1%17
of the UK workforce).
One of the most critical indicators of openness to diversity practices is the degree of
formal HR planning in place among employers. Employers that take a structured and
transparent approach to recruitment and development are less likely to exclude certain

   Labour Force Survey, 2004q1-2004q4
   Labour Force Survey, Spring 2005
   Labour Force Survey, Spring 2005

groups or be potentially discriminatory. According to the Employers Skills Survey, 58%18
of establishments have a business plan and 44% have a training plan.

Employment forecasts
Future projections relating to employment composition are fairly static in relation to
gender. The Working Futures 2004-2014 report19 predicts that the female employment
share will rise from its current position of 46% (in 2004) to 47% by 2009 – and will
remain at 47% by 2014.
The increase in the number and share of part-time jobs is expected to continue. It is
anticipated, though, that men will comprise a higher proportion of the part-time labour
force; a trend that, according to Working Futures, explains the reversal of the
historical decline in male employment.
It is estimated that in the next decade, 50% of the growth in the workforce will come
from ethnic minority communities20.
The sector picture in terms of diversity
Using the overall UK labour market as the lens to understand diversity does not provide
a complete picture. The situation in relation to all of the above indicators varies
considerably by industry. This relates to an array of structural and historical barriers
that have influenced and shaped sector workforce composition over time, such as:
        working practices,
        organisational culture,
        skills requirements,
        entry routes and careers paths
        sector reputation.
One of the reasons why SSCs can play an important role in tackling diversity issues is
that they are well-positioned to develop solutions to address the specific barriers at
industry level. It is possible to look at each of the strategic economic sectors within the
UK economy (represented by the SSCs) to see how the diversity issues vary – both in
terms of their nature and the scale of the challenge.
Table 4 provides an overview of the sector level picture in terms of overall workforce
diversity and flexible working practices (the availability of part-time working and
flexitime) according to the Labour Force Survey. Table 5 provides another dimension in
terms of how open each sector is to diversity – by looking at the extent of formal HR
planning from the National Employer Skills Survey. It also looks at the extent of current
skills shortages, which is one indicator of the potential demand for diversity.
This analysis provides the general picture according to the key national statistical data
sources, although SSCs have more detailed information about their own sectors. Other
bodies, such as the EOC, have also undertaken additional research. Note that the
analysis covers the 22 out of the 25 SSC sectors. The process and manufacturing

   LSC, Employers Skills Survey (England), 2004
   Institute for Employment Research/Cambridge Econometrics, Working Futures 2004-2014: Sectoral
Report, 2006 (NB: NOT YET PUBLISHED)
   LFS data, cited in D Owen and A Green, Minority Ethnic Participation and Achievements in Education,
Training and the labour Market. Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations and Institute for Employment
Research, University of Warwick, 2000, p16-17.

industries (covered by Proskills) and the central government sector (covered by
Government Skills) are not included, as the relevant SSCs had not been licensed at the
time of the analysis. Also, the Labour Force Survey does not provide reliable estimates
for SummitSkills.

Overall representation
An overview of the sector-level LMI suggests the following in terms of the scale of the
        11 out of the 22 sectors feature significant female under-representation overall
         (i.e. around a third of the workforce or less is female).
        At least six out of the 22 sectors indicate significant BME under-representation,
         although it is difficult to be concrete in terms of representation of specific BME
         groups owing to data limitations.
        Five out of the 22 sectors show a significant under-representation in terms of
         the relative proportion of older workers employed. Similarly, there are six
         sectors in which the younger age group is significantly under-represented.

Occupational imbalances
There are further occupational imbalances in relation to gender21 for each sector. Most
        Women are under-represented in management roles in 16 out of the 22 sectors.
         However, five out of the remaining six sectors are among those with the lowest
         overall female representation (a third of the workforce or less). Some of the
         sectors in which women are generally well represented (e.g. finance; retail;
         active leisure and learning) show the largest differences between overall
         female representation and the proportion of women in management.
        In nine out of the 22 sectors women comprise a quarter or less of the workforce
         in professional occupations (property, housing, cleaning and facilities
         management; retail motor; construction; energy & utilities; IT;
         textiles/apparel; logistics; audiovisual industries; sciences, engineering and
         manufacturing). With the exception of the textiles industry, these are typically
         sectors that feature overall female under-representation, although the extent
         of the imbalance is often exaggerated in relation to professional occupations. In
         a further five sectors women comprise up to around a third of professional
         occupation workforce (financial services; food and drink; land-based industries;
         chemicals, nuclear, oil, gas and polymers; retail).
        In contrast, all sectors feature a significant over-representation of women in
         administrative and secretarial roles. In 18 out of the 22 sectors, women
         comprise at least three quarters (and often much more) of these roles.
        Women‟s representation in elementary occupations tends to mirror the overall
         sector breakdown. The two sectors in which there are a noticeably higher
         proportion of women in elementary roles than in the sector overall are active
         leisure and learning and IT (the latter of which has very few of these roles

 Note that it is not possible to provide LMI at sector level in relation to the occupational balance of the
workforce in terms of ethnicity

Work organisation
The availability of part-time working varies considerably by sector. There are four
sectors in which at least 40% of the workforce is part-time, all of which have above
average female representation overall (hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism; social
care; active leisure and learning; and retail). By way of contrast, in 14 out of the 22
sectors, less than a quarter of the workforce is part-time. This includes all 11 sectors
that feature significant female under-representation overall (along with the justice,
textiles and financial services sectors).
Other forms of flexible work organisation are more consistently available (or
unavailable) across different sectors. Flexitime is the most prevalent type of agreed
working arrangement, but for most sectors it accounts for less than one in ten of the
workforce. Of the five sectors in which it is most common, three are predominantly
public sector sectors (justice; social care; and FE/HE). Job sharing and nine-day
fortnights remain extremely rare (each covering 1% or less of the workforce for all
sectors). A similar picture emerges in relation to term-time working (with the notable
exception of the FE/HE sector).
In terms of HR planning, sectors where a higher proportion of establishments have a
business plan tend to be more representative overall (e.g. financial services; FE/HE;
social care; health; justice). The pattern in relation to the proportion of
establishments with a training plan and the diversity of the sector‟s workforce is less
clear, although many sectors where training plans are less prevalent (e.g. construction;
textiles; audiovisual industries) are those with significant SME or self-employed
The following sections go on to explore the sector picture in relation to diversity more
closely, as well as looking at how the SSCs are tackling these issues.

Table 4: Workforce diversity and opportunities for flexible working by sector
SSC / Sector                Total             Overall    Proportion of   Majority    Older worker Proportion of  Proportion of
                          Employment          Female      women in     ethnic group representation workforce in    workforce
                                          representation management representation      (55-64)     part-time   working flexitime

Economically active       27,859,720      46%                33%                93%                14%                26%               9%

Asset Skills              653,180         52%                42%                92%                17%                36%               14%

Automotive Skills         569,254         20%                13%                95%                14%                14%               4%

Cogent                    599,562         26%                25%                94%                13%                7%                10%

ConstructionSkills        2,525,268       12%                13%                97%                16%                9%                6%
Creative & Cultural
                          227,551         45%                49%                96%                16%                34%               9%
Energy & Utility Skills   331,471         25%                21%                96%                13%                8%                12%

e-Skills UK               783,515         26%                20%                89%                7%                 9%                12%
Financial Services
                          1,176,540       52%                34%                93%                6%                 17%               13%
Skills Council
GoSkills                  581,055         20%                25%                87%                18%                15%               7%

Improve                   406,574         33%                26%                91%                13%                12%               5%

Lantra                    429,068         30%                33%                99%                17%                21%               6%

Lifelong Learning UK      797,577         58%                50%                93%                20%                32%               13%

People 1 st               1,446,578       57%                48%                88%                9%                 45%               4%

SEMTA                     1,680,129       19%                12%                96%                15%                6%                8%

Skillfast-UK              301,782         47%                33%                91%                17%                18%               6%
Skills for Care and
                          1,368,376       82%                66%                92%                16%                41%               14%
Skills for Health         1,964,916       78%                65%                89%                15%                37%               10%

Skills for Justice        434,792         40%                32%                95%                10%                12%               21%

Skills for Logistics      995,230         21%                26%                93%                16%                13%               5%

SkillsActive              305,392         47%                28%                97%                9%                 44%               7%

Skillset                  258,939         33%                33%                92%                9%                 15%               7%

Skillsmart Retail         3,020,869       61%                41%                91%                11%                50%               4%
                                                                                      Source: Labour Force Survey 2004 (4 quarter average 2004q1 – 2004q4);
                                       except Proportion of women in management & Proportion of workforce working flexitime – Labour Force Survey Spring 2005

Table 5: Extent of formal HR planning and of skills shortages
SSC / Sector               Proportion of           Proportion of       Proportion of establishments        Skills-shortage vacancies
                       establishments with a   establishments with a     reporting skills shortage           per 1,000 employees
                           business plan           training plan           vacancies (England)                      (England)

Economically                   58%                     44%                         6%                                    7
active population

Asset Skills                   60%                     44%                         1%                                    6

Automotive Skills              45%                     37%                         8%                                   11

Cogent                         61%                     53%                         8%                                    4

ConstructionSkills             41%                     31%                         6%                                   13
Creative &
                               59%                     23%                         3%                                    6
Cultural Skills
Energy & Utility
                               69%                     57%                         6%                                    5
e-Skills UK                    66%                     31%                         4%                                    6
Financial Services
                               81%                     67%                         6%                                    4
Skills Council
GoSkills                       53%                     40%                         11%                                   8

Improve                        63%                     48%                         9%                                    5

Lantra                         56%                     34%                         6%                                   12
Lifelong Learning
                               86%                     77%                         6%                                    3
People 1 st                    55%                     41%                         6%                                    9

SEMTA                          53%                     38%                         8%                                    6

Skillfast-UK                   49%                     26%                         4%                                    4
Skills for Care and
                               81%                     78%                         10%                                  10
Skills for Health              70%                     73%                         7%                                    6

Skills for Justice             85%                     80%                         8%                                     !

Skills for Logistics           51%                     37%                         6%                                    6

SkillsActive                   62%                     51%                         6%                                    8

Skillset                       57%                     31%                         3%                                     !

Skillsmart Retail              54%                     44%                         3%                                    5
                                                                               Source: LSC, National Employer Skills Survey (England), 2004
                                                                                              ! is used where the base size was less than 25

How the SSCs Address Key
Diversity Issues
The picture of diversity across UK industries clearly raises issues that SSCs and others
need to address. Table 6 below provides an overview of how widespread each diversity
issue is, according to the headline data. In itself, the headline data does not provide a
complete picture of all of the various aspects of promoting diversity. Effectively
promoting diversity requires a multi-pronged approach. On a fundamental level, there
is a need to drive the demand for diversity among employers. Effort is also clearly
required to further improve the balance of workforce composition in many sectors. The
nature of work organisation itself has to adapt in order to support a more diverse
labour force.
Each sector faces distinct challenges, but the pattern that emerges from the national
LMI22 is of numerous sectors facing common issues. It is possible to look at some
indicative examples:
          Sectors that have particularly embedded imbalances in terms of overall
           representation: For example, with a workforce of 2,525,268 employees, the
           construction industry employs almost 10% of the national workforce. Yet the
           sector is characterised by very low levels of female employment (12% female)
           and low levels of BME employment (97% white). Only 1% of those employed in
           skilled trade occupations are women, the largest occupational group employing
           half the sector‟s workforce. Similarly, women are under-represented in process
           plant and machine operative roles (1% female) and elementary occupations (4%
           female). Flexible working practices are uncommon across the sector. The extent
           of part-time working is around a third of the national average (9%).
          Sectors in which overall employment is representative but where there are
           significant occupational imbalances: For example, the financial services
           sector. A key characteristic of the sector is that it employs a relatively high
           proportion of women (52% female). The representation of employees from
           ethnic minority groups matches that of the whole economy (93% white). There
           are only half as many workers aged 55-64 work in this sector compared to the
           rest of the economy (6%) and significantly more employees aged 25-34 (31%
           compared to 22% across the economically active population). Part-time working
           is relatively uncommon across the sector (17% compared with 26% nationally),
           although flexitime is more common than in many other sectors (13% compared
           with 9% nationally). Human resource planning is very high across the sector,
           with 81% establishments reporting a business plan and 67% reporting a training
           plan (both 23% higher than in the whole economy). However, women are

     Labour Force Survey

significantly under-represented in skilled trades occupations (12% female) and
professional occupations (28%). Women are also under-represented at
management level (34% female).

Table 6: Overview of diversity issues (x = significant issue compared to national average)23
SSC / Sector              Women under-   BME groups        Older workers      Lack of women     Lack of flexible     Lack of HR        Skills shortages
                           represented      under-             under-               in          work practices25      planning
                                         represented       representation     management24

Asset Skills
Automotive Skills              X                                                    X                  X                  X                   X
Cogent                         X                                                    X                  X                                      X
ConstructionSkills             X               X                                    X                  X                  X
Creative & Cultural
                                               X                                                                          X
Energy & Utility Skills        X               X                                    X                  X
e-Skills UK                    X                                  X                 X                  X                  X
Financial Services
                                                                  X                                    X
Skills Council
GoSkills                       X                                                    X                  X                                      X
Improve                        X                                                    X                  X                                      X
Lantra                         X               X                                                       X                  X
Lifelong Learning UK
People 1st                                                        X
SEMTA                          X               X                                    X                  X                  X                   X
Skillfast-UK                                                                                           X                  X
Skills for Care and
Skills for Health
Skills for Justice                                                                                                                            X
Skills for Logistics           X                                                    X                  X                  X
SkillsActive                                   X                  X                 X
Skillset                       X                                  X                                    X                  X
Skillsmart Retail
                                                                                   Source: Labour Force Survey 2004 (4 quarter average 2004q1 – 2004q4);
                                    except Proportion of women in management & Proportion of workforce working flexitime – Labour Force Survey Spring 2005
                                                                                              Source: LSC, National Employer Skills Survey (England), 2004

           The key diversity challenges emerging from the evidence can be classified as in the box
           below. By looking at each challenge in turn, it is possible to assess the degree to which
           it is critical at sector level. This leads inevitably to the more important question: how
           to address the issues identified? There is no single solution to each of these challenges.
           Yet from the work undertaken by the SSCs to date, it is possible to see how the Skills
           for Business network can add value and in what areas.

              Blank spaces mean no issue, and do not refer to a gap in the data.
              Defined as being below the national average.
              Defined in terms of the availability of part-time working and flexitime

     Key Diversity Challenges26
        Driving the demand for diversity
             o    The need to promote diversity approaches to employers (selling the
                  „business case‟ for diversity)*
        Improving the balance of the overall composition of the workforce
             o    Policies to improve the overall gender balance within a sector (i.e.
                  attracting new entrants)*
             o    Policies to improve the overall ethnic balance within a sector*
             o    Initiatives to support the retention of older people in employment, and
                  address the under-representation of younger people
             o    Supporting access for people with disabilities into employment
        Improving representation within specific occupations
             o    Supporting women into management
             o    Supporting ethnic minority staff into management
             o    Tackling the gender pay gap
        Making work organisation more amenable to a diverse population
             o    Promoting flexible working practices
             o    Improved HR planning and managing diversity*
             o    Providing additional support (e.g. for child care) and flexibility to enable
                  wider labour market access*

All of the SSCs interviewed as part of the scoping study27 (with the exception of three
on the cusp of being licensed) could point to some diversity activity in which they were
engaged, although it is still „early days‟ for many SSCs in terms of the scale and breadth
of activity they are undertaking. However, the balance of current activity broadly
reflects the needs of the sector. SSCs such as ConstructionSkills, SEMTA and e-Skills UK
are all understandably active in terms of diversity. In fact, the volume of activity is
highest in two types of sector:
        industries that have traditionally been                         male-orientated         (e.g.     IT;
         manufacturing/engineering; construction)
        those that have undergone significant change in terms of workforce composition
         (e.g. food manufacture; hospitality) or work organisation (e.g. textiles).
The main SSC activities tend to relate to addressing current or future skills shortages by
widening the supply of labour (to encompass non-traditional groups). There is also
activity that aims to improve business processes by enabling employers to develop a
more diverse workforce, although this is less common. At least half of the SSC activity
has a specific gender focus, partly because gender disparities are the clearest to

   Challenges marked with an asterisk (*) are those where there is most SSC activity or the greatest potential
for SSCs to influence practice
   23 out of the 25 SSCs were interviewed as part of the scoping (including those not yet licensed), the
exceptions were Financial Services Skills Council and Skills for Care and Development

identify. A significant proportion of work relates to multiple under-represented groups,
typically targeting gender and ethnicity.
‘Selling’ the business case for diversity to employers
The nature and extent of the issue
There is a growing evidence base on the business benefits of diversity for employers
including reduced costs; access to the widest talent pool; improved creativity,
innovation and problem solving; enhanced reputation; and improved financial
performance28. Yet there are also a wide range of barriers that can act as a break on
diversity. These relate to employer perceptions, organisational culture, infrastructure,
the nature of work organisation and even simple things like offering part-time work.
One of the key strands to making diversity a reality is for employers to recognise the
business benefits. The logic runs that it is unrealistic to expect employers – particularly
those in the private sector – to move beyond lip service to diversity unless it is framed
in terms of impact on the „bottom line‟.
There is no single indicator for the degree to which employers „buy in‟ to the business
case for diversity. Yet for 15 out of the 22 sectors for which data is available (see Table
6) there is either a lack of flexible working practices or significant current skills
shortages. This implies that there is scope to promote the benefits to employers; for
example, that embracing diversity can help employers to fill vacancies, while flexible
arrangements can help retain staff, improve morale and performance.
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
The SSCs are well placed to support „selling‟ the business case for diversity. The SfBN
objectives highlight how the network has an equal opportunities/diversity focus
embedded within the „business case‟ – i.e. improving productivity. The SSCs therefore
hold an important position within the skills agenda. Not only do they provide the „real
world‟ employer perspective, but, importantly, they are tasked with addressing the
systemic barriers to skills development (be they related to gender, ethnicity, age or
any other factor).
The business case for diversity is promoted by 16 out of the 23 SSCs interviewed as part
of the scoping exercise29. This relates, for example, to:
        making the case for how a more diverse workforce may improve customer
        focusing on how better management of diversity will improve staff retention.
        using LMI to make the case for wider recruitment in terms of how projected
         skills shortages are likely to impact on business.
        implementing a previously identified business case for diversity.
Of the small number of SSCs that are not currently promoting the business case for
diversity, this tends to be a development issue. Three SSCs were „planning to‟ promote
the case, while another described currently „having too many other priorities‟. Only
two SSCs felt that it was not their role to promote the business case for diversity:
either feeling that it should be addressed nationally or that it was not relevant to the

  DTI. Women in the IT Industry: Towards a Business Case for Diversity. Interim Report, January 2005.
  23 out of the 25 SSCs were interviewed as part of the scoping (including those not yet licensed), the
exceptions were Financial Services Skills Council and Skills for Care and Development

Examples of SSC activity
          Energy & Utility Skills‟ Ambition Energy programme involved working with
           Scottish Gas to undertake a pilot aimed at training gas service engineers and
           operatives, targeted specifically at lone parents (primarily women).
           SummitSkills‟ involvement in the Aquatec project used similar principles,
           working with Connaught Plc to provide flexible training to unemployed women
           to become plumbers (case study 9). In both cases, the role of the SSC has been
           to facilitate targeted, flexible training in conjunction with employers that
           already recognised the potential benefits that diversity can bring to customer
           service. Both sectors have significant gender imbalances. Yet, there is a
           potential demand for female plumbers and gas service engineers within the
           domestic service market. These approaches have shown how this market
           opportunity can be realised, albeit on a small scale.
          Other SSCs, such as e-Skills UK and Skillset, are also focused on implementing
           rather than promoting the business case. A number of key employers in the IT
           industry are aware that their businesses would benefit from more women
           entering the sector because they are not currently tapping into the full
           potential of the labour market. They have supported e-Skills UK in tackling this
           issue at a young age through the Computer Clubs for Girls initiative (case study
           4). Similarly, in the broadcast media industry, there is an increasing recognition
           that programming and staffing has to effectively reflect the audience in order to
           offer products that appeal to a diverse population, especially in the context of
           the increase in the number of TV channels and the growth of specialist
           programming. This has led to key employers supporting Skillset‟s Millennium
           Awards and Open Doors programmes, which are nationwide talent searches to
           identify BME broadcasters (case study 3).
          Improve‟s managing diversity seminars show a different SSC role, again based
           around a sector-specific situation. The food and drink manufacturing sector
           increasingly undertakes non-UK recruitment. The seminars focus on how better
           management of diversity can improve staff retention and business performance
           (case study 11). Research by the SSC30 suggests that diversity becomes a „cost‟
           when businesses fail to understand basic measures that could save time and
           resources. For example, businesses can help to ensure that recruitment and
           induction procedures support successful integration so that overseas workers are
           in a position to do their jobs effectively and productively. This support may take
           the form of the provision of ESOL training for overseas workers or cultural
           awareness training for staff more widely. Here, the SSC role is to support and
           facilitate the sharing of good practice, building on a sometimes latent
           recognition among employers of the potential business benefits.
Many of the above examples are specific to certain sectors. However, there is one area
in which all SSCs can play a role in supporting the business case for diversity: using LMI
to make the case for more diverse recruitment to address future skills needs. One of
the major roles of the SSCs is to provide LMI on workforce development and skills
issues. Each SSC, in the course of its work, identifies the skill needs for the sector, the
workforce profile, gaps and priority areas. They are therefore well-placed to articulate
the scale and nature of the diversity issues facing employers. This is something that all
SSCs are addressing systematically as part of the Sector Skills Agreement process.
Improving the overall gender balance within a sector
     Improve Ltd. Overseas National Working in the UK Improve Industry Sector, 2005.

The nature and extent of the issue
In absolute terms, women remain under-represented in the working population,
although, as noted in the previous section, there has been a marked increase over
time. The overall labour market trend of increased female participation is less clear at
sector level. Arguably, the fact that some sectors effectively remain „male domains‟ is
even more significant in light of the overall increase in female labour market
Under-representation of women is a significant issue in 11 of the SSC sectors, typically
those relating to manufacturing, technology and transport. While women make up 46%
of the active labour market, there are nine sectors where the figure is around half of
this: construction; passenger transport; retail motor industry; science, engineering and
manufacturing; land-based industries; logistics; energy and utilities; IT; and the oil,
gas, chemical and nuclear industries. There is also under-representation, although less
marked, in the audiovisual and food and drink sectors, where around a third (33%) of
the workforce is female.
However, additional SSC research (both primary research and further analysis of the
Labour Force Survey) shows that women‟s under-representation is even more apparent
within some parts of these sectors. For example:
        Passenger transport – women‟s under-representation is more acute in the bus
         and taxi sub-sectors (only 15% of road passenger transport is female according
         to the GoSkills market assessment) than the airline industry31.
        Science, engineering and manufacturing – according to SEMTA‟s Sector Skills
         Agreement, while women comprise 28% of the electronics workforce, they make
         up only 14% of the automotive manufacturing workforce and 11% of the
         electronics workforce. Note that this is only a sample of the SEMTA sub-
        Land-based industries – according to Lantra‟s own research as part of its Sector
         Skills Agreement, the main areas of female under-representation are in
         agriculture (crops and livestock), land-based engineering and trees and timber.
         Conversely, women are over-represented in veterinary nursing, floristry and
        Logistics – there is particular female under-representation in the freight road
         industry (12%) compared with storage and warehousing (21%), according to the
         Skills for Logistics sector profile report34.
        Oil, gas, chemical and nuclear industries – according to the Cogent market
         assessment from 2003, only 20% of the chemicals industry workforce is female
         and only 18% of the oil and gas industry35.
        Audiovisual industry – Skillset‟s annual census reports that while women make
         up at least half of the workforce in some areas (e.g. broadcast TV; film
         distribution) they are under-represented in the electronic games industry (8%),

   GoSkills. Market Assessment, March 2004.
   SEMTA. Sector Skills Agreement for the Electronics, Automotive and Aerospace Industries (England,
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), 2005.
   Lantra. Sector Skills Agreement. Analysis of Current and Future Skills Needs, September 2005.
   Skills for Logistics, Grey S. UK Logistics Sector Profile, February 2005.
   Cogent. Market Assessment. Final Version for Submission to SSDA as part of the Business Proposition,
November 2003.

         processing labs (7%), facilities (22%), post production (26%) and offline
         multimedia (26%)36.
        Food and drink – Improve‟s analysis of the Labour Force Survey suggests that the
         largest gender disparity is in terms of the bakery sub-sector, where the part-
         time workforce is almost entirely female37.
This additional SSC evidence suggests that there may be benefits in targeting some
initiatives at specific sub-sectors. The picture is not yet complete, as some SSCs
continue to develop their LMI evidence base.
Significantly, SSC intelligence also highlights sub-sector imbalances towards both
genders that partially cancel each other out in terms of the headline picture. The need
to improve the gender balance is therefore more widespread than just the 11 sectors
noted above. Within the active leisure and learning footprint, for example, SkillsActive
reports a concentration of women working in the play sector, while men predominate
in the sports sector38. Similarly, while women are slightly over-represented across the
whole hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism footprint (58% of the workforce is
female), People 1st reports that this rises to over 70% in hospitality services, contract
food service provision, travel and tourism; while men comprise 62% of the visitor
attraction workforce39. Within the justice sector, there has traditionally been female
under-representation in HM Customs and Revenue, police and custodial care, while the
community justice and courts sub-sectors are predominantly female40. Finally, while
the overall gender balance of the textiles sector reflects the wider labour market,
there is a concentration of female employment in apparel manufacture (where women
represent almost 66% of the workforce) according to Skillfast-UK reports41.
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
Initiatives to address women‟s under-representation form a significant part of SSC
activity to date, perhaps unsurprisingly given the scale of the issue. The most active
SSCs have tended to be those covering sectors where the gender imbalances are most
extreme: ConstructionSkills; SEMTA; e-Skills UK; and Skills for Logistics. There is,
however, huge variation in the scale of activity.
Overall, though, there are two main types of SSC intervention to counteract gender
imbalances. These are:
        Initiatives to attract girls and young women to be the future workforce for
         the sector. This typically involves targeted marketing, IAG and activities such as
         „taster‟ courses that are based around influencing the future careers choices of
         girls and young women. They are used by SSCs working in traditionally „male
         dominated‟ industries, where there are often strong gender stereotypes. In
         many of these industries the gender imbalance has been long-established and
         reinforces itself through the generations.
        The provision of targeted, supported training to attract more women into
         the current workforce. These interventions tend to be smaller scale, but as

   Skillset. Employment Census 2004: The Results of the Fifth Census of the Audio Visual Industries, June
   Office of National Statistics. SSDA Matrix, Labour Force Survey 2003/4
   SkillsActive. Skills Needs Assessment: Playwork, October 2005.
   People 1st. The Hospitality Services Industry, Industry Report, February 2005.
   Skills for Justice. Labour Market Information Reports (Community Justice, Custodial Care, Prosecution
Services, Court Services, Policing), August 2005.
   Skillfast-UK. Market Assessment for Apparel, Footwear, Textiles and related Businesses, July 2004.

            they are based around the provision of immediate training (usually ring-fenced
            for women) there is increased likelihood of short-term impact. They tend to be
            either focused on sectors where the gender imbalance is significant but not
            extreme, or on less well-established SSCs.
There are only really two sectors that show a comparable level of under-representation
of men: who make up 17% of the care and development sector and 22% of the health
sector, even though men account for 54% of the working population. Here, the same
well-established gender stereotypes appear as in manufacturing-related and technical
sectors only in reverse, with the caring occupations traditionally thought of as „female
roles‟. Men are also under-represented in retail (39%). There is, however, little
evidence of equivalent SSC activities to address the under-representation of men.
Examples of SSC activity
Initiatives to attract girls and young women to be the future workforce for the
Examples include SSC-led IAG/marketing initiatives to encourage more girls and young
women to become the future of the sector‟s workforce.
          ConstructionSkills runs an annual Positive Image campaign to attract young
           people into the sector. The focus of its TV campaign and the presentation of
           posters (e.g. in the changing rooms of female clothing retailers) specifically
           target girls. It also runs a series of Positive Action projects through its area
           offices in conjunction with careers services, including taster days and school
           careers activities.
          SEMTA runs the WISE campaign (Women into Science and Engineering), which
           has been in operation for over 20 years. It is effectively a portfolio of activities
           and uses a range of tools to engage, encourage and support girls and young
           women into the sector. The IAG component includes publications, websites and
           scholarships targeted specifically at young women. One of the more innovative
           approaches has been the „speaking out‟ project, which involved the
           development of a database of successful women engineers and scientists who
           are willing to promote their professions in schools and colleges. WISE has
           contributed to a doubling of the proportion of female engineering graduates in
           20 years, although the fact that this figure is only 18% in spite of the on-going
           activity shows the scale of the task facing SSCs and others (case study 10).
There are also more direct SSC marketing activities that encompass non-traditional
          Automotive Skills‟ careers strategies are based around challenging common
           careers stereotypes; while in the oil and gas sector, careers marketing activities
           include equality and diversity as a theme. For example, promotional material on
           the automotive careers website says “don‟t think the motor industry is only for
           guys – it has tons of great opportunities for girls too”42.
          The WISE campaign also offers a „taster‟ component, both in schools and in the
           form of week-long residential courses (with „hands on‟ experience) for those at
          This is a similar approach to a newer SSC-led initiative in the IT sector, e-Skills
           UK‟s Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G) programme (case study 4). It attempts to


       tackle gender stereotyping in relation to IT before it becomes cemented in the
       minds of young women. Targeted at 10-14 year old girls, CC4G is an after-school
       club in which the course materials address music, design and fashion, while also
       teaching IT skills. It has an important social component and volunteers from
       some of the major IT companies have linked up with specific schools to add
       their expertise. There is already some evidence of increased IT skills and more
       positive perceptions of careers in the sector from participants, although the
       nature of the intervention means that its true impact will not become apparent
       for some years. However, it stands as a key example of the potential of SSC
       activity because of its scale. The programme, which is being rolled out
       nationally as part of the Sector Skills Agreement, is an ambitious attempt to
       shift perceptions in relation to the sector, aiming to benefit 150,000 10-14 year
       old girls by 2008.
The provision of targeted, supported training to attract more women into the
current workforce
There are more numerous examples of SSC involvement in targeted projects to train
women to enter the current workforce. These use tailored and flexible training
packages to target women. The way in which the training is tailored (and possibly how
the target group is attracted) may emerge from SSC research. There may also be
additional, funded support for transport or childcare to attract those with caring
Both the Ambition Energy (Energy and Utility Skills) and Aquatec (SummitSkills, case
study 9) projects fit into this category. However, while these projects were partly
driven by a specific customer service, in other cases the projects are a response to
skills shortages.
      For example, GoSkills is involved in promoting a local project called Women into
       the Bus Industry, a London-based initiative run by Hackney Community
       Transport. There are 200 women undertaking an eight week programme,
       including six weeks of training and two weeks on-the-job experience. Transport
       for London has allowed the project to run three bus routes to enable
       participants to gain experience. Key to this project is a job coaching service
       available through Hackney Community Transport. The placements are either
       with First Bus or Stagecoach, and participants are guaranteed an interview at
       the end.
      The Women with Wheels project led by Skills for Logistics targets women to
       become LGV drivers in Scotland, therein addressing the shortage of new drivers
       entering the sector (case study 2). Again, the focus and structure of the training
       is shaped to meet the needs of the target group. This may be as simple as
       ensuring that assumptions are not made about trainees‟ familiarity with
       mechanics. Critically, the targeting of the pilot was based on research
       undertaken by the SSC that had exposed misconceptions held about the job
       (e.g. that employers were not interested in female drivers; or that the job
       required physical strength).
      Both GoSkills and Skills for Logistics also consulted and supported a large-scale
       ESF Development Partnership under the EQUAL initiative, called Fuirich
       Transport. Fuirich Transport tested a range of approaches to support women‟s
       entry into the transport industries (hence the overlap with both the passenger
       transport and logistics SSCs), focusing on developing tailored learning and tools.
Improving the overall ethnic balance within a sector

The nature and extent of the issue
The Labour Force Survey data suggests that BME groups are under-represented in at
least six sectors: construction; the creative and cultural industries; energy and utilities;
land-based industries; science, engineering and manufacturing; and active leisure and
learning. This undoubtedly under-represents the scale of the issue, as there are
numerous sectors in which the number of BME respondents to the Labour Force Survey
is too low to provide a reliable estimate.
Once again there is additional sub-sectoral intelligence from the SSCs that provides
further insight:
        Skills for Logistics reports relatively low BME representation in the road freight
         sub-sector (1%), although the sector is representative overall43.
        Within the justice sector, Home Office figures show that BME police officers
         represent 2.9 per cent of the workforce (although there has been a 14% increase
         in the number of BME officers since 2001/2)44.
More than in other aspect of diversity, there is a geographic dimension to ethnicity and
representation. Urban areas are typically much more ethnically diverse than rural
areas, meaning that there is a relationship between BME employment rates and the
sector profile of urban areas. In the land-based industries, which are concentrated in
rural areas, 99% of the workforce comes from the majority population. At the other end
of the scale, Skillset‟s census material notes that while the audiovisual sector has a 7%
BME workforce, which is broadly representative of the UK population, half of the
industry is based in London (where the BME population is 35% of the total)45.

   Skills for Logistics, Grey S. UK Logistics Sector Profile, February 2005.
   Skills for Justice. Labour Market Information Report (Policing Report), August 2005.
   Labour Force Survey (2004q1-2004q4)

The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
There is little SSC activity specifically targeting ethnicity, although some wider SSC
activities (e.g. aimed at improving HR planning) may be expected to impact on the
ethnic mix of a sector‟s workforce. Beyond this the lack of detailed LMI on ethnicity at
sector level and the fact that BME groups form a relatively small (albeit growing) part
of the population could indicate that it is less of a priority area.
However, the geographical component to BME under-representation is noted by some
SSCs. In Cogent‟s market assessment, for example, it says: “representation from
minority ethnic groups differs greatly depending on the area of employment within
the industry as well as geographical location”46. One SSC raised the point that at a
regional level, there are businesses „built around‟ BME groups so that the sector
picture, while looking fairly balanced, was actually more segregated. The issue is
therefore one of integration.
The other point that is raised by some SSCs is where BME groups, from a „business
perspective‟ are under-represented as customers. SkillsActive notes in relation to the
outdoors sector that Asian communities are under-represented both as workers and
users/customers, which raises questions in terms of accessibility. Lantra has also been
involved in a project with the Royal Parks to raise BME use of its services.
Examples of SSC activity
        The clearest example of an SSC-led initiative focused on improving BME
         representation within the workforce is Skillset‟s Millennium Awards programme
         (case study 3). It was driven by a recognition of the need to cater for BME
         groups as customers – in this case as viewers of the increasing number of
         specialist TV channels. The focus was on providing practical experience which is
         critical for entering the television industry (through training, work placements,
         careers advice and mentoring). The interesting aspect was the role played by
         the SSC, not only in managing the programme, but in actively seeking out the
         latent talent within BME communities (e.g. outreach at youth clubs and
         community centres) to make it a success.
        Another initiative with a strong BME focus (although also targeting women) is
         STEP into Construction, led by ConstructionSkills. Like a number of the gender-
         focused training programmes mentioned above, STEP into Construction is driven
         by projected skills shortages. It uses a locally delivered fund to incentivise
         employers to take on a more diverse workforce. The funding (which comes from
         the SSC) is flexible and can be used to cover the specific needs of the trainee,
         be that childcare, tools, Personal Protective Equipment or language training
         (case study 7).
Supporting the retention of older people in employment
The nature and extent of the issue
The UK‟s ageing population has significant impacts on the pensions system – requiring
people to work longer and possibly leading to new forms of labour market engagement
(e.g. increased part-time working towards the end of the career). Traditional career
models are therefore increasingly outmoded as the nature of work shifts, and
individuals manage the latter part of the career cycle differently.

 Cogent. Market Assessment. Final Version for Submission to SSDA as part of the Business Proposition,
November 2003.

With people choosing, or needing, to work longer, the age profile of the working
population is likely to shift, possibly dramatically. From a diversity perspective, the
challenge for employers, employees and public policy is that traditional perceptions
about older workers in terms of their skills and competencies can prevent integration.
In many cases this requires a fundamental reassessment of HR – in terms of career
pathways, staff development, inter-generational learning and work organisation.
There are also sectors that have traditionally only had a small proportion of young
people in the workforce, such as transport sectors and professional occupations.
Table 7 below provides a selection of sectors in which workforce profile is not
representative either at the lower or older age ranges. Older people are under-
represented in five sectors, while younger people (16-24) are under-represented in six

Table 7: Selected sectors with under-representation by age

Sector                          16-24                      45-54                            55-64

Econ Active Pop.                14%                         22%                              14%

Fewer older workers

Financial services              15%                         18%                               6%

IT                              10%                         18%                               7%

Hospitality, travel & tourism   36%                         14%                               9%

Audiovisual                     15%                         19%                               9%

Active leisure and learning     33%                         13%                               9%

Fewer young workers

Passenger transport              5%                         26%                              18%

FE / HE                          7%                         27%                              20%

Health                           7%                         25%                              15%

Justice                          7%                         22%                              10%

Textiles                         8%                         25%                              17%

Logistics                        9%                         23%                              16%
                                           Source: Labour Force Survey 2004 (4 quarter average 2004q1 – 2004q4)

The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs

Mapping demographical sectoral shifts is a key SSC activity, particularly in the context
of anticipating future workforce development needs. However, the link between age
and sectoral diversity is complex. There are some sectors where the youngest age
group (16-24) is under-represented partly because of the amount of training required to
enter key occupations in the sector (e.g. parts of the health and justice sectors). In the
hospitality and active leisure sectors, the occupational make-up is such that many jobs
are more suited to younger people.
This does not mean that employers here cannot do more to attract older workers
(employers in the retail sector, such as B&Q, have had success in targeting this group
and improving customer service), but it is a more critical issue in sectors where the age
profile is more balanced. The IT, audiovisual and finance sectors, for example, are
heavily professionalised, meaning that larger proportions of the workforce are likely to
retire earlier.
Similarly, the under-representation of young people in the passenger transport and
logistics sectors can be explained by many driving jobs requiring the individual to have
held a driving license for three years. Yet in the logistics sector at least it is possible to
see how age and gender combine to compound a potential skills shortage. The average
employee in the sector was described as „male, white and over 50‟. Employers have to
widen that profile (say, in terms of gender) in order to address the ageing workforce.
The Women in Wheels pilot in the logistics sector mentioned above is an example of
this. It shows that projected age imbalances can be a strong driver for improving the
diversity of the sector, although this does not translate into activity among the SSCs
specifically to retain older people in employment (case study 2).
Supporting access for people with disabilities to employment
The nature and extent of the issue
The employment rate of people with disabilities remains much lower than that of the
general working age population. Only half of working age people defined as long-term
disabled are in employment compared with four-fifths of working age people who are
not long-term disabled.
People with disabilities are increasingly able to access employment, although the
heterogeneity of the group makes it difficult to talk in general terms. However, new
technology has played a role in supporting flexible working. From an equal
opportunities standpoint, labour market access is also now underpinned by the
Disability Discrimination Act.
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
There is a lack of information at sector level to understand variations in employment
among people with disabilities. It is not an area that has yet been specifically targeted
by the SSCs as a priority for substantial action.

Supporting women into management
The nature and extent of the issue
While the participation rate of women in the UK is above the EU average (UK 65.3%,
EU-15 56%)47, there are seemingly impervious barriers in gender pay and representation
at senior levels. The Labour Force Survey data shows that women are under-
represented in management and professional occupations in the majority of sectors,
while they remain disproportionately concentrated in administrative roles in all
sectors. In practice, therefore, the issue of gender segregation is rooted not just in
perceptions of sectoral culture but in terms of actual skills, competencies and
occupational development pathways.
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
Although women‟s under-representation in management is a critical diversity issue,
only a few examples of activity to support the progression and development of women
into management have emerged among the SSCs to date. This is partly because
development programmes tend to be quite employer-specific and SSCs have less
involvement in the practices of individual employers.
However, in 2003, The EOC launched a General Formal Investigation into occupational
segregation across five „sectors‟: construction, engineering, ICT, plumbing and
childcare. Part of the process was to establish an investigation advisory board, which
included ConstructionSkills, SummitSkills, e-Skills UK and SEMTA, as well as the Skills
for Business network Chair. The SSC input centred around consultation, advising,
networking and building recommendations for future work. Outcomes included a series
of reports and joint recommendations, which SSCs are taking forward, many of which
specifically target women into management positions48. These include: setting targets
on apprenticeships and diversity frameworks; selling the business cases by effectively
breaking through SME resistance; promoting better use of procurement to integrating
diversity; and promoting positive action in relation to training.
Examples of SSC activity
There are two examples of SSC-related development programmes to support women
into management. In both cases the interventions are fairly new, relatively small-scale
and targeted at smaller employers. They are also both based around changing sectors,
where there is a strong driver either for business creation or diversification.
        Skillfast-UK‟s Women into Management and Wave programmes are regional
         approaches to respectively increase women‟s participation in business creation
         in the textiles and clothing sector and to get more women into management
         positions. The Women into Management programme selects women already
         working in the sector who have the potential to fulfil a management role.
         Through self-assessment (using psychometric tools), networking and mentoring,
         participants can follow a programme that meets their own specific management
         needs. This tailoring is also critical to the WAVE programme of getting women
         into management positions in the North West of England, which is based around

   Eurostat. Quarterly Labour Force Data, 2003. Taken from Indicators for Monitoring the employment
Guidelines 2004-5 Compendium, April 2005.
   Miller L, Pollard E, Neathey F, Hill D and Ritchie H, Institute for Employment Studies. Gender
Segregation in Apprenticeships. Equal Opportunities Commission, 2005.
Miller L, Pollard E, Neathey F, Hill D and Ritchie H, Institute for Employment Studies. Occupational
Segregation, Gender Gaps and Skill Gaps. Equal Opportunities Commission, 2005.

       the provision of bite-sized learning modules that build on participants‟ previous
       skills and experience (case study 6).
      Lantra also runs a programme called Women into Management, which is a
       similarly locally based approach to targeting women and equipping them with
       the necessary skills to start up and run successful micro businesses. This is
       critical as there is pressure on many land-based businesses to diversify. The
       reduction in subsidies and the driving down of prices by supermarkets and global
       competition has led to a situation where the land-based businesses must
       consider expansion away from traditional activities. Many businesses are family-
       run units, and the balance of traditional agricultural work falls mainly to men.
       Yet it is the women of these family businesses who are driving diversification
       because they have a wider set of skills from having worked in other contexts.
       The training is also tailored – as participants undertake an initial Lantra skills
       check. Similar to the Skillfast-UK approach, there is a mentoring qualification
       included so that participants can go on to support other women (case study 8).
There is arguably a more generic SSC action that could, in time, play a larger role in
supporting women (and other disadvantaged groups) into management roles. As the
SSCs are tasked with developing national occupational standards that are relevant to
employers, they play a key role in providing transparency in recruitment and
development. It is the sort of mainstream SSC activity that could have an indirect
impact on occupational mobility and diversity. Another area of potential SSC influence
is in developing careers pathways such as the NHS skills escalator – both to improve
access to employment and to make the basis for progression more explicit. It is an
objective of Energy & Utility Skills among others.
Supporting BME groups into management
The nature and extent of the issue
There is little robust, sector-level information available on the extent to which specific
BME groups are under-represented in management. However, the picture is likely to be
similar to gender-based occupational segregation.
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
Supporting BME groups into management has not emerged as a major SSC priority area.
However, there is a potentially powerful example of wider SSC activity with a race and
diversity focus in Skills for Justice‟s work on new occupational standards for the police
(case study 1).
Beyond this, there is also an SSC role in either sharing or mainstreaming good practice
in relation to development programmes (at the level of the organisation). Asset Skills,
for example, is currently trying to roll out more widely the Bright Futures programme,
which is a small-scale leadership project to encourage BME women into senior
management in the housing sector – run by the National Housing Federation. The
project involves training, mentoring and the offer of MBA training.

Examples of SSC activity
      Skills for Justice has been involved in developing national occupational
       standards for the police that incorporate diversity and equality (case study 1).
       This is not therefore directly related to supporting BME groups into
       management, but it is significant because it embeds a requirement for managers
       to go beyond acknowledging diversity as an issue to actively promoting it. The
       key innovation has been in the way the new standards have been implemented
       as part of a wider cultural change programme. It worked by initially training
       managers in the new standards and then supporting them to performance
       manage, coach and assess their staff‟s competence in them. Critically, the SSC
       has been involved in ensuring that the language of the standards is meaningful
       to police officers on the ground. The programme has also developed a toolkit of
       resources to support implementation, including an Implicit Assumption Test (a
       voluntary tool for staff to review their own commitment to diversity, prejudices
       and preferences), video clips (to put the standards in the context of the „on the
       ground‟ reality of policing), and „champions‟ to support managers in the field.
Tackling the gender pay gap
The nature and extent of the issue
The gender pay gap is narrowing slowly, but it remains a reality. According to the
Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, between 2004 and 2005, the gender pay gap
narrowed to its lowest value since records began. Figure 3 below charts the gender pay
gap in recent years.
In 2005, the gap between women's and men‟s median hourly pay (excluding overtime)
was 13.2% compared to 14.5% in April 2004. The median hourly rate rose by 3.2% for
men to £11.31, as the rate for women rose 4.7% to £9.82. When overtime is included,
the gap between women‟s and men‟s weekly earnings is extended, partly because
women work fewer hours than men. However, between 2004 and 2005 this gap has also
narrowed as gross weekly pay for employees increased by 3.7% in females and 1.4% in

Figure 3: Gender Pay Gap (1998-2005)

                                                         Source: ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the issue of gender and pay is not widely covered in the LMI
work of the SSCs. Nor does it feature as a priority area for action. Pay is raised as a
contributor to skills shortages, yet it is rarely considered in conjunction with the
gender (or ethnicity) dimension, probably because it is not a direct skills issue. There
are cases, though, where pay is used to make the case for attracting women into non-
traditional occupations (as shown in Skills for Logistics‟ work to attract women LGV
drivers in Scotland – case study 2).
Promoting flexible working practices
The nature and extent of the issue
The LMI analysis highlighted a lack of flexible working opportunities across all sectors,
in terms of job sharing, term-time working and nine-day fortnights. Flexitime and part-
time working are more prevalent and, in the case of the latter, there is a clear link
between sectors offering part-time work and women being well-represented in the
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
None of the SSCs is directly involved in significant initiatives to support increased
flexibility. Given that the remit of the SSCs relates to skills, this is not surprising.
However, the SSCs have added value in terms of supporting flexibility in training
provision. There is also one sector-specific example where an increased need for
flexible working was used as a spur for increasing the demand for a female work force.
Skills for Logistics notes how the impact of the EU Working Time Directive impacted on
the work organisation for long-distance drivers. This means that employers increasingly
have to look for more flexible working in order to embrace changed shift patterns, and
this was part of the logic behind the Women with Wheels pilot (case study 2). The
regulatory requirement for flexible working was a precursor to a move towards a more
diverse workforce.
Improved HR planning & diversity management
The nature and extent of the issue
More sophisticated HR procedures help to create a better climate for diversity in
employment. The more that employers use, for example, effective recruitment and
induction procedures, job and person specifications, training and development plans,
the more likely it is that recruitment and development will be open, transparent and
fair. Of course, the procedures in themselves are not meaningful unless they are
embedded in a mature organisational culture.
Yet the requirement, say, for improved HR planning goes hand-in-hand with
organisational size. As noted previously, many sectors where training plans are less
prevalent (e.g. construction; textiles; audiovisual industries) are those with significant
SME or self-employed workforces.
There is one particular HR planning issue that the SSCs provide additional insight on:
the management of an increasingly diverse workforce. Improve and People 1st have
both produced research focusing specifically on overseas labour – which is a critical
skills issue in the hospitality and food manufacturing sectors. Understanding the scale
of the overseas workforce is clearly important for managing diversity, yet as one SSC
notes: “Whilst there is much anecdotal evidence of the increasing use of migrant
workers in particular areas of the UK there is a general paucity of data in official
statistics. Clearly this is an urgent issue requiring better understanding and work is
already underway to tackle it.”

The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
There is a growing tranche of SSC activity that relates to how employers practice and
manage diversity. However, addressing HR planning and diversity management are
broad areas and therefore encompass a range of SSC activities. These can be classified
in terms of:
      Recognition schemes to promote good practice in diversity management.
      Delivering training and support to employers, via:
           o   Toolkits to support employers wanting to improve their HR practice.
           o   Seminars for employers in diversity management.
           o   Training for employees (in particular, cultural awareness training).
      Strategic work with employers to improve diversity.
Examples of SSC activity
Promoting good practice
Promoting and recognising good practice is an area in which SSCs can add value,
although there are only a couple of examples to date.
      ConstructionSkills was involved in the inaugural diversity award in 2005 at the
       Contract Journal Awards. The winning employer, Kier Building Maintenance,
       employs nearly a third of its workforce from BME groups and has women
       represented at every level.
      Similarly, Improve is involved in sponsoring part the Food Manufacture
       Excellence Awards, which also includes a „diversity in communication‟ award
       (won in 2005 by Memory Lane Cakes).
Delivering training and support
A common SSC activity to encourage improved HR and diversity management is through
the delivery of training and support. This includes practical tools developed by SSCs (or
in partnership with them) that are used as additional guidance. A number of these have
been developed using ESF funding.
      For example, Cogent was involved in supporting focus group research that led to
       the development of a CD ROM on Understanding Equality and Diversity within
       the Oil and Gas Industry. The toolkit (available via the SSCs e-learning portal)
       includes a series of exercises related to: challenging stereotypes; case studies
       on discrimination; and sections requiring an employer response to develop an
       action plan to address diversity
A more interactive approach is to run seminars for employers on diversity management.
This has been shown to work both in sectors where there is little diversity (e.g.
construction) and sectors that are already diverse (e.g. food and drink).
      Improve‟s development of managing diversity seminars to support employers
       with increasing numbers of overseas workers is described in case study 11.
      Similarly, ConstructionSkills has developed business case for diversity briefings
       for employers, which take a very practical approach to supporting organisational
       / cultural change. The briefings cover the difference between equal
       opportunities and diversity, „stats and facts‟, industry barriers, and specific
       personal and training barriers that get in the way of translating a commitment

       to diversity into reality. They offer practical advice for addressing the
       „unwritten rules and laws‟ of a workplace.
Another area with widespread relevance is multi-cultural awareness training for
      Asset Skills has developed a multi-cultural communications course for the
       housing sector, to ensure that Local Authorities and Housing Associations can
       provide an effective service to tenants from diverse cultures (case study 5). The
       course had generic aims in terms of improving verbal and non-verbal
       communication skills and customer care skills. It provided detailed information
       on cultural differences and was also based around a series of scenarios set
       within the housing context (e.g. dealing with conflict resolution). The SSC is
       already looking at developing the course materials for a range of other sectors.
Strategic work with employers
SSCs may even take a strategic role in helping employers to understand how to improve
diversity. This partly relates to the SSC role in terms providing LMI, but there are also
more „hands on‟ examples of SSCs in a leading role. In 2004, SummitSkills set up a
Diversity Interest Group to address a recognised need within the building services
sector to attract non-traditional groups into the workforce (to meet future skill needs).
The Diversity Interest Group evolved out of an initial group set up by a major training
provider as an outcome of its national conference. Members include employers and
equality and diversity professionals. The group is tackling a wide range of issues,
      the need to publicise to employers the link between skills shortages and future
       needs and the lack of people from under-represented groups;
      poor perception of the sector among young females and young people from BME
       groups and their parents and a lack of sufficient information to enable them to
       make the choice to take-up non-traditional careers;
      lack of accurate and available data: disaggregated by gender, ethnicity,
       disability and age; on apprenticeship pay rates by sector and the apprenticeship
       gender gap;
      difficulty in attracting women and people from BME groups;
      gender stereotyping in schools (including curriculum).
Cogent‟s business plan has also identified the need to develop a plan to improve the
diversity of the nuclear industry. Its employer group also asked for support in bidding
for funding (to DTI) for a project on the business case for diversity in the chemicals
industry, the focus of which was on researching industry drivers for diversity,
developing guidance on an „inclusive culture‟ and a communication strategy. The
project had an anticipated start date of early 2006.

Providing additional support and flexibility to enable wider labour market
The nature and extent of the issue
A key component of women‟s under-representation in the labour market has been
ascribed to their traditional caring role. Employers have increasingly been addressing
how women returners and those with caring responsibilities (disproportionately women)
can effectively access employment. It is an area where the sectoral dimension comes
strongly into play.
The degree to which the issue is being addressed by the SSCs
Tailoring training to meet the needs of individuals and specific groups is central to
many of the diversity training initiatives in which the SSCs are involved. There are two
main components to this. The first relates to flexible delivery of training and the
second relates to providing funding to cover additional costs (notably childcare).
Flexible delivery, such as bite-sized learning, is a common SSC priority as it fits with
what employers typically demand. It is therefore an area in of SSC activity could be
expected to grow over time.
The provision of additional funds tends to be dependent on the context of the specific
initiative. Typically, though, the resources are short-term (e.g. ESF or Jobcentre Plus
funding), which leaves the challenge of attempting to mainstream a particular
approach, perhaps with employer funding. This is likely to be a considerable challenge
for SSCs.
Examples of SSC activity
      Energy and Utility Skills‟ Ambition Energy project with Scottish Gas targeted
       lone parents. The advantage of weighting the programme in favour of a specific
       group was that the course could be structured around their needs. For example,
       training was delivered on a „family friendly‟ basis (outside school-hours; if time
       off was required to look after a dependent the trainer would make sure the
       candidates caught up). Training also covered the cost of childcare. All of the
       successful trainees got a job at the end of the programme. The similar Aquatec
       project, supported by SummitSkills, was also structured around school hours and
       provided childcare expenses for trainees (case study 9).
      In a slightly different context, the Women into Management project led by
       Lantra also ensured that the learning was delivered locally (i.e. within 20 miles
       of the participant‟s business) to take account of time and family commitments.
       It was run along a „child friendly‟ timetable, for example ensuring that sessions
       were not run during school holidays. In this case, though, the training was also
       structured around a recognition of the need to balance family and existing work
       commitments i.e. in short-term packages (case study 8).
Summary of SSC activities in relation to diversity
Looking across the various SSC activities in relation to diversity, it is possible to
distinguish between strategic interventions to tackle diversity issues and more targeted
project-based initiatives. There are fewer current examples of strategic interventions
with a strong diversity focus, although it is arguable that some of the SSCs‟ wider
activities (such as supporting HR development and labour market analysis) will have
spin-off impacts on diversity.

Strategic interventions
Strategic interventions are wide-ranging, typically national activities that are focused
on influencing the sector as a whole. A good example of this type of activity that falls
squarely within the SSC remit is adapting National Occupational Standards to
incorporate diversity (as, for example, Skills for Justice‟s work with the police service
shows – case study 1). The SSCs have a key role in terms of ensuring that apprenticeship
frameworks and occupational standards have wide currency, relevance and fit employer
needs. There is therefore the potential to ensure that diversity is at the heart of them.
Other interventions in this vein include the promotion of lifelong learning, the
development of new, flexible qualifications and pathways into employment.
The point about strategic interventions is that the degree to which improving diversity
is an explicit focus varies. It is important to distinguish between activities where
diversity is the prime focus and activities with a more generic focus – but likely benefits
in terms of diversity, such as supporting SMEs to develop better business practices/HR
systems. Lantra, for example, has plans to support SMEs to achieve Investors in People
There is a further relevant stream of strategic SSC activity, and that relates to the
development of robust LMI. Again, the focus is unlikely to be directly on diversity, but
it is a critical tool for establishing the nature and the scale of workforce imbalances. As
mapping and analysing the occupational and sub-sectoral profile of the existing
workforce is a core part of a skill needs assessment, issues such as the gender, ethnic,
and age profile of the workforce is effectively tied in to addressing priorities for the

Project-based interventions
Project-based interventions tend to be more locally focused (initially at least) and are
more likely to involve SSCs working in an auxiliary or specialist role in partnership with
others. In many cases, the projects are based around tailored training programmes
targeting a specific under-represented group.
The SSCs are involved in numerous ESF-funded projects (e.g. the Aquatec project in
which SummitSkills is involved, case study 9) and in accessing resources from
organisations such as the LSC. The main example of an SSC core-funded project is STEP
into Construction (case study 7), although this is undoubtedly related to the fact that
ConstructionSkills‟ levy gives it a distinct starting point to the other SSCs.
There are also country specific SSC diversity projects in Scotland, Wales and activity in
the English regions.
While the ambition of the project-based interventions tends to be more limited to a
small number of beneficiaries (e.g. Skills for Logistics‟ Women in Wheels pilot had 15
participants; Lantra‟s Women into Management initiative targeted 43 local businesses),
this can provide a test bed for wide implementation. The scale of some targeted
projects, such as Computer Club for Girls, have evolved to such a degree that they have
become, in effect, strategic interventions.

Working with individuals and employers
It is also possible to distinguish SSC activity in terms of its focal point on employers or
      Support for employers: This type of activity is both project-based and strategic
       in nature – depending on the focus of the intervention. It includes providing
       training, IAG, and business support tools. What distinguishes this activity from

       others is that the focus is on supporting and „educating‟ employers to either
       directly or indirectly incorporate diversity practices. The SSC is therefore not
       just the employer advocate in the context of these activities.
      Support for individuals: This covers a substantial amount of SSC activity.
       Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is more diversity-related work targeted at
       individuals than employers. There are two distinct components to the SSCs work
       with individuals: targeted training / support for individuals to enter the sector
       and support to progress and develop within the sector.
The SSC role
One of the clear findings in terms of SSC diversity activity is that the SSC itself can play
a variety of roles, depending on the focus of any given intervention. Overall, it is
possible to identify the following main roles:
      lead agent or partner
      technical expert
      promoter
      catalyst for sharing good practice.
In terms of working with employers, the role of the SSC is varied, from supporting
partners in bidding for funding to leading in the delivery of training. However, the most
common role and the area in which the SSCs seem best-placed to add value is in terms
of developing training materials and tools. In terms of work targeting individuals, the
specific SSC role also varies. For example, Energy & Utility Skills played a lead project
management role in delivering Ambition Energy, something that was arguably crucial to
the project‟s success. In terms of the SummitSkills, Aquatec project in Wales (case
study 9) the SSC role was more focused on set up.
There are a couple of examples where an activity involves an initial research or scoping
stage and then the development of a course or tool based on the outcomes. This
provides the SSC with a potentially important role as they have research skills and a
direct route into consulting/researching employers in the sector. Examples include
Skills for Logistics work with Women in Wheels (case study 2) and Cogent‟s (then as
OPITO) involvement in the Understanding Equality and Diversity within the Oil and Gas
Industry project. Coincidently both of these projects took place in Scotland.
It is certainly true that SSCs tend to work in partnership with others – especially in
terms of targeted initiatives and projects. Yet the SSCs are also involved (or could be
involved) in strategic joint actions with others, for example:
      There are other employer-led forums focusing supporting good practice. For
       example, the Women in IT Forum, which is led by the industry body (Intellect),
       although e-Skills UK is involved. Cross-sectorally, there are groups such as the
       Employers for Work Life Balance, and various Business in the Community-led
       campaigns, which cover similar ground to much of the SSC work with employers
       (especially in terms of objectives) but have a broader focus in terms of activity,
       encompassing working practices for example.
      The UK Resource Centre for Women in Science, Engineering and Technology
       (SET) has 11 SSCs within its remit and is current developing a strategy with
       three of them.
Significantly, much of the SSC work to date in relation to diversity has had a local or
regional focus. Diversity is therefore an area where SSCs can work effectively in

conjunction with other agencies such as the RDAs, the LSC regionally and local training
providers, providing solutions to locally identified challenges. SSCs have a role in
actively working with the Regional Skills Partnership process. This presents a real
opportunity to include diversity. The significant point here is that while the regions
differ, many of the key diversity challenges are relevant in different regions. The SSCs,
because of their national reach, therefore have a role in helping to mainstream local
success stories to other regions. For example, e-Skills UK‟s initial pilot of Computer
Clubs for Girls was undertaken in conjunction with SEEDA in the South East. Lessons
were learned and the project was rolled out nationally.

Lessons Learned
One of the challenges in drawing lessons from the SSC approaches to tackling diversity
issues is that there is little evidence to date of impact. The few activities that are long
established – such as the WISE campaign (case study 10) – show that it can take years to
shift industry culture.
However, there are useful lessons from the SSC experience. It is possible to look at
tackling the barriers to achieving change, as well at how the SSCs organise their
diversity activities and measure their impact, before summarising some of the key
principles that SSCs and others should follow.
Tackling the barriers to promoting the business case for diversity
It is important to reiterate that SSC activity in relation to diversity is still evolving. The
SSCs remain fairly new organisations, and have emerged from different origins. Some,
such as ConstructionSkills and SEMTA, have evolved from organisations (such as NTOs)
with a long history. Others have started their SSC work programmes effectively from
scratch. As a result, the size and infrastructure of the SSCs varies considerably.
Therefore, as a number of the SSCs continue to develop their work programmes, the
scale of diversity-related activity is likely to increase (especially given that it is
recognised as an issue in so many sectors).
It is difficult to develop policy measures to tackle a specific – or perceived – issue
without a firm evidence base. For numerous SSCs, the LMI evidence base also needs
further development in order provide a complete picture in relation to workforce
planning and diversity. Many SSCs acknowledged that while sector-level data provided a
useful overview, the real picture was only shown at sub-sector level.
Part of the work of the SSCs is, of course, to develop the LMI evidence base. This is a
more significant issue for some SSCs than others. Each SSC has a „footprint‟ defining the
industries or sub-sectors that fall within its remit. The SSCs vary considerably in terms
of their sectoral complexity, and, as a result, the ease with which Labour Force Survey
data can be transposed to provide a comprehensive picture of representation and
occupational spread. The retail sector (covered by Skillsmart Retail) and the
construction sector (covered by ConstructionSkills) are fairly homogenous, and the
Labour Force Survey therefore provides a fairly good picture of the overall make-up of
the workforce. The footprints covered by SEMTA and Lantra on the other hand are each
composed of at least a dozen sub-sectors, which do not necessarily face the same over-
arching diversity issues.
Furthermore, the sector does not have to be particularly complex to face diffuse
diversity issues. For example, Government Skills SSC covers the civil service, NDPB and
also the armed forces within its probable footprint. These various sub-sectors face very
different issues in terms of diversity.
There are also practical barriers to effectively promoting diversity. Lack of funding for
training and development was highlighted as a barrier to undertaking project-based

interventions. Projects such as Ambition Energy and Aquatec relied on funding (from
Jobcentre Plus or ESF) to be able to offer additional support to the target group (e.g.
child care). However, the SSCs are well placed to draw down funding. In some
examples, one of the key SSC roles is to actually make the bid. More importantly, it
would be a mistake for SSCs to focus solely on discrete, funded projects to tackle
diversity. Arguably, the more significant long-term impacts will result from some of the
more strategic activity undertaken.
There were also a series of structural barriers to promoting diversity. These are more
significant issues as they relate to employer awareness and „buy in‟. The SSCs are
employer-led organisations, but it has been noted that outside of a relatively small
number of major employers, there is not yet major appetite for actively supporting
diversity initiatives. This puts the SSCs in the paradoxical position of representing
employer priorities while also attempting to influence and shape those priorities.
Communicating the diversity message has to be an on-going process. Among the
recommendations of the SSCs were industry awards to raise the profile of good practice
employers (such as those Improve and ConstructionSkills are already engaged in). It was
also felt to be important to involve the industry press in promoting good practice. More
substantively, within the network, there were a range of suggestions such as supporting
cross-SSC working (which already happens on other issues but only in a limited fashion
in terms of diversity) and networking of SSC diversity leads.
Using Sector Skills Agreements to drive forward the diversity agenda
A number of SSCs reported that the Sector Skills Agreements (SSA) process would
provide a focus for a systematic response to sector diversity issues. Part of the process
involves mapping the sector picture in more detail – something that may help to
address data gaps at sub-sectoral level. As a forward-looking assessment of future skill
needs, it also means that SSCs and their employers are being further confronted by the
demographic issues relating to future workforce profile, as well as current supply
limitations. One of the stakeholders described the SSAs as „the mechanism to get
employers to address diversity and equality at all levels‟, but cautioned that this was
predicated on them containing informed, local-level analysis.
Only four of the SSCs have so far produced SSAs: ConstructionSkills, e-Skills UK, SEMTA
and Skillset. The early evidence from these SSCs is that not only does the SSA process
provide the means for developing a more robust picture of diversity within the sector;
it also, perhaps as a result, leads to more concerted action. For example, e-Skills UK
includes an area of activity based around rolling out its Computer Clubs for Girls pilot
nationally, including a commitment to government funding for the programme and
ambitious targets for its implementation.
ConstructionSkills includes an action based around „attracting diverse recruits through
employment projects‟. Its analysis suggests a need to move from education and training
for under-represented groups, which has not in itself widened participation, to a
greater focus on employment. This includes targeting funding for apprenticeships at
atypical groups, while at the same time encouraging employers to commit to
construction employment projects and ensuring that large employers commit to diverse
recruitment through the supply chain.
Many of the other SSCs are in the process of developing their SSAs or preparing to do
so. It is anticipated that the SSAs will be published and launched along the following
broad timetable:
o May-July 2006: Skills for Logistics, Cogent, Skillfast-UK, Lantra, SkillsActive and
  Skills for Health.

o November 2006-January 2007: Asset Skills; GoSkills; Skills for Justice; Automotive
  Skills, Improve; and People 1st.
o March-April 2007: SummitSkills; Energy & Utility Skills; Financial Services Skills
  Council; and Skillsmart Retail.
o August-September 2007: Lifelong Learning UK; Creative and Cultural Skills; Proskills.
o To be confirmed: Skills for Care and Development and Government Skills.
Management of diversity issues
Responsibility for diversity issues varies from SSC to SSC. Partly this reflects the fact
that the nature and scale of the issue varies by sector:
      The majority of SSCs have an explicit diversity lead, although this tends to form
       part of wider organisational remit (e.g. skills or workforce development).
      A significant degree of diversity-related activity is also embedded within
       broader initiatives. It may be that an SSC has an effective diversity lead in the
       form of a project or initiative co-ordinator (for example, e-Skills UK through
       Computer Clubs for Girls).
      One SSC reported that it was the responsibility of all staff to champion diversity
The picture is also evolving. ConstructionSkills, for example, has recently reorganised
its staffing structure, which means that diversity sits within the legal team not the
policy team. A number of the SSCs are still evolving their internal management
structures and building internal capacity.
Lifelong Learning UK, one of the more recently licensed SSCs, reported that it was in
the process of establishing an equalities panel to inform its various sub-sectoral
activities. The aim is to keep the SSC in touch about diversity events and initiatives so
as not to replicate existing activities. This sort of forum is likely to be useful, especially
given that many SSCs operate along a sub-sectoral and partly regional structure –
meaning that lessons from the SSC‟s own local diversity work may be missed.
How the SSCs measure the effectiveness of diversity activities
Just over half of the SSCs (13 out of the 23 interviewed) have specific targets relating
to diversity, although many of the rest expected to develop these as part of the SSA
process. A couple of SSCs reported that targets in relation to diversity had already been
set by key sector bodies – and the SSC would work towards these rather than setting its
own measures (e.g. the Department of Health in the work of Skills for Health; Sport
England in relation to SkillsActive).
The targets set by SSCs include both „internal‟ targets (focusing on the SSC‟s own
performance in terms of diversity) and external targets (relating to the diversity of the
sector‟s workforce more widely). As an example of the former, Skillfast-UK has a target
to increase the proportion of minority ethnic owned companies participating in the
SSC‟s activities. External targets and measures used by the SSCs included:
      Skillfast-UK has targets in relation to an increase in the proportion of women
       and BME groups in non-traditional roles
      As part of its SSA action plan, SEMTA is tracking the number of new apprentices
       by gender.
      Girls at age 14 being as likely as boys to choose an IT career, is a measure used
       by e-Skills UK in relation to its Computer Club for Girls programme. The nature

       of this intervention, which focuses on career choices made later, means that
       programme‟s overall impact will only be apparent in the long-term. This
       measure does, however, give an interim indication of potential impact (case
       study 4).
      Automotive Skills has a suite of careers activities (including IAG and marketing).
       Although the activities are not explicitly targeted at any specific groups of new
       entrants, one of the targets is a 3% increase in female and BME employees.
      Cogent has an objective to „enrol (the) sector in the business benefits of
       diversity and equality of opportunity‟, the success of which is measured in terms
       of the percentage of females and BME employees working in the sector. More
       specifically, the SSC is monitoring diversity in the technician recruitment
      Skills for Justice, part of whose work is focused on making diversity an explicit
       part of standards and competency development, is measuring success in terms
       of the use/take-up of NOS across three areas of skills development: training
       design, role profiling, and competency frameworks (case study 1).
One of the issues for SSCs using external measures is the degree to which they fall
within the SSCs influence. It is not, for example, realistic to expect an SSC – in the
short-term certainly – to radically influence the make-up of the workforce at sector
level. Some measures are therefore useful in terms of monitoring - i.e. calibrating the
„health of the sector‟. Others are more closely related to the SSCs own activities – i.e.
they are areas that the SSCs can influence directly.
Key principles for addressing diversity issues and effectively promoting the
business case
There are a series of key principles that emerge from the case study examples for
effectively promoting the business case for diversity. These are described below,
alongside a series of more practical good practice lessons that emerged from the case
studies (see box).
One of the most important principles for successfully tackling diversity that emerged
both from the SSCs and stakeholders was that it was absolutely essential for any
initiative to have an effective business case. A common theme of the SSC case studies
is that each of the various initiatives is underpinned by the logic of improved business
performance. Employers must recognise the commercial benefits of a diverse workforce
that reflects the customer base.
The important implications for SSCs are that it becomes critical they can first:
      identify key industry trends and policy drivers, and
      provide a strong research base.
On the other hand, there is also a need for the SSC to be able to offer some kind of
„solution‟. The lessons here are in terms of developing effective partnership working
with other organisations and ensuring that there is a feedback loop so that good
practice can be captured and promoted. This is the essence of Improve‟s managing
diversity seminars (case study 11). The SSCs have an in-built advantage here in that
they are driven by Board structures comprised of key employers. Tapping this on-the-
ground knowledge is crucial.
As well as requiring a strong business case for action, it is important that diversity
initiatives are effectively targeted. In the case of Skillset, there was a clear logic to

attracting a more diverse workforce to cater for a diverse audience. Importantly, a key
success factor for the Millennium Awards was the extensive „talent search‟ that took
place to recruit participants. The diversity project therefore went hand-in-hand with a
high-quality recruitment / training programme (case study 3).
Much of the SSC work to date has related to training and skills development. Here,
flexibility is the watchword:
      The learning from Skillfast-UK‟s approaches is that the content of training
       programmes has to be tailored to the individual, the business and the sector –
       especially if it is a higher-level development programme (case study 6).
      If the focus is on attracting new entrants, then flexibility has to meet the needs
       of the target group, something that is particularly pertinent in the context of
       individuals with disabilities and people with caring responsibilities. For example,
       Lantra‟s Women into Management scheme is local, short-term / bite sized, and
       child friendly (case study 8).
      Yet any programme has to itself be flexible and non-bureaucratic in delivery to
       allow employers easy access. STEP into Construction is a good example of the
       benefits of flexible funding (case study 7).
Another essential principle is to engender strong buy-in and credibility for any diversity
initiative. Some of the SSCs have done this through branding or with a launch event.
Yet the most important factor, as evidenced in Computer Clubs for Girls (case study 4),
is to involve employers (senior industry figures) from the start.
A similar point relates to the quality of the initiative. Computer Clubs for Girls also
embeds employers in delivery. It is one way of ensuring that the learning being
delivered is relevant, useful and up-to-date. This is fine if there are enough industry
„champions‟ to lead the way, or if the focus is on promoting a sector to an external
group. Where the focus is on improving business processes, it may require specially
trained „champions‟, as Skills for Justice has used (case study 1), to support the key
managers in translating a theory of organisational change into practical solutions.
The stakeholders contacted as part of the study (EOC, TUC, Employers for Work-Life
Balance, Business in the Community, LSDA, UK Resource Centre for Women in Science,
Engineering and Technology) also provide a perspective on the role SSCs should play in
promoting the business case for diversity. The key messages from stakeholders are:
      To sell the case, SSCs need to develop a clear framework that is meaningful to
      They also need to address why previous approaches have lacked engagement
       (looking at what does not work).
      One of the reasons diversity is not yet integrated in many employer processes is
       that employers do not typically analyse or understand their own workforce
       composition. SSCs can play a key role in developing this initial building block
       through their LMI work. Similarly, skills forecasting does not yet incorporate
       enough of a diversity dimension.
      Any SSC approach has to be set in the context of the business being targeted.
       Time and resources can prevent businesses, especially smaller enterprises, from
       addressing diversity.
      The focus for any intervention aimed at improving business processes in terms of
       diversity should target middle- rather than senior managers, as this is where a

       lot of responsibility for implementing new business processes lies and can be a
       potential blockage for translating diversity measures into practice.
      The approach singled-out by numerous stakeholders as having the „right
       ingredients‟ for an SSC to effectively promote diversity was Computer Clubs for
       Girls. Its key characteristics were defined in terms of it having: strong
       government backing; an effective partnership; a good business case, making it

SSC Good practice lessons for addressing key diversity issues
      Driving the demand for diversity
      Tacking diversity is more effective as part of a wider cultural change process
       (Skills for Justice).
      Where there is an apparent business case for diversity, SSCs can facilitate the
       sharing of good practice: building employer confidence that potential solutions
       already exist; improving employer understanding of the issues; encouraging a
       pro-active approach and offering simple solutions that are adaptable to each
       business (Improve).
      Improving the balance of the overall gender or ethnic composition of the
      Using research on individual and employer perceptions to shape training
       programmes that specifically target non-traditional groups (Skills for Logistics)
      The key lessons for successful project-based interventions are that they are
       based around a robust business case, involving employers from the start and
       with strong industry backing (e-skills UK).
      SSCs can play an active role in „talent spotting‟ and helping to identify those
       from non-traditional groups with the real potential to add value to employers,
       therein facilitating employer demand for a diverse workforce (Skillset).
      Offering employers a flexible, non-bureaucratic incentive to attract non-
       traditional groups can help to boost the demand for a diverse workforce. Locally
       delivered funding that can be tailored to the needs of each individual is an
       effective approach (ConstructionSkills).
      Having a qualification attached to a training programme was something many
       women coming from an office background found attractive in the context of
       Women with Wheels (Skills for Logistics)
      Directly linking industry specialists up with schools to provide role models to
       future generations and a real flavour of what can be achieved in a career in a
       non-traditional industry (e-Skills UK and SEMTA).
       attractive to employers; and excellent marketing.

SSC Good practice lessons for addressing key diversity issues
      Improving representation within specific occupations
      The identification of potential candidates for women into management schemes
       is critical, and the involvement of employers can help to ensure that training is
       targeting women in the sector who have the potential and the opportunity to
       move into management roles (Skillfast-UK).
      Effective management training has to be customised to the individual, the
       business and sector. Tools such as psychometric assessment and mentoring can
       help to ensure that training builds on the skills participants already have
      Bite-sized and short course modules are often effective approaches for
       individuals who are already working in the sector. This also provides flexibility
       for those with caring commitments (Lantra; Skillfast-UK).
      The opportunity for networking is often a crucial component in women in
       management schemes (Skillfast UK; Lantra).
      Making work organisation more amenable to a diverse population
      When undertaking diversity training for employees, the skills and experience of
       the facilitator are critical for providing „real life‟ examples and practical tips
       that will benefit staff, for example by improving conflict resolution skills (Asset
      A sensitive but important component to supporting increased diversity
       awareness is to provide tools and a non-judgemental setting to enable staff to
       question their perceptions, prejudices and cultural assumptions (Skills for
       Justice; Asset Skills)
      Ensuring that assessment guides and tools to support diversity can bridge the
       gap between theory and practical on-the-ground reality is another important
       factor (Skills for justice).
      Training should be local, delivered along a child-friendly timetable and short-
       term in order to have successful recruitment and retention (Lantra). Providing
       support with transport and childcare can also make the difference for those
       with caring responsibilities (Energy & Utility Skills; SummitSkills).
      Positive role models and mentors can champion the benefits to other employees

Part B: Good Practice Case

New standard for diversity
in policing
Derbyshire Constabulary, working in conjunction with Skills for
Justice, has developed a programme to enable 750 managers to
coach & assess staff competency in relation to new National
Occupational Standards for Diversity and Equality.
There is pressure on police forces nationally to provide a more citizen-focused service,
meeting the needs of the individuals and communities they serve, and in doing so,
inspiring greater public confidence. Partly in recognition of this, the Home Office has
introduced a Strategy for Improving Performance in Race and Diversity (2004-2009).
The strategy outlines new targets for achieving full staff competency in two new
National Occupational Standards (NOS), both of which can be assessed through the
personal development review process:
      NOS 1A4: „Fostering people‟s equality, diversity and rights‟ – All police service
       employees must be competent in this standard by 2009.
      NOS 1A5: „Promoting people‟s equality, diversity and rights‟ – This standard goes
       beyond acknowledging diversity to actively promoting it. The target is for
       priority staff, such as chief officers, supervisors and senior investigating
       officers, to reach the standard by 2007.
It is the first time that the police have used occupational standards in relation to
diversity. It embeds diversity within the core competencies of effective policing. The
new standards were developed by the Home Office in conjunction with Skills for Justice
and the QCA. They were based on existing standards used in the community justice
sector, which were adjusted to make them relevant to policing. The SSC had a
particular role in developing the language for the standards (to make it accessible and
meaningful to police officers) and the assessment strategy.
Taking action
Derbyshire Constabulary has been active in attempting to ensure that it meets the new
standards. It has introduced a new learning and development programme for 750
managers to enable them to performance manage, coach and assess their staff‟s
competence in the higher level standard.
It was felt that managers were best placed to put the standards in the local community
context, signpost their staff to further development and make an assessment of
competence. It was also felt to be essential that the programme was focused on the
specific operational needs of staff and the communities they serve, rather than
adopting a generic development programme.
Managers attend initial one day courses that are run regularly by the training team at
Derbyshire Constabulary. These introduce the two standards (NOS 1A4 and 1A5). The
managers are then given eight weeks to develop ideas and introduce their staff to the
NOS 1A5. The Constabulary‟s trainers had to adapt from their traditional trainer-led

style to more trainee-focused facilitation - developing a balance between challenging
the behaviour of trainees and creating a learning environment which is open and
encourages a self critical attitude. A subsequent two day course for managers involves
debriefing and problem solving workshops using scenarios and case studies to further
help develop managers' practical skills in assessing race and diversity. Once courses are
complete, managers are given 12 months to assess their staff and 'train to the gaps', by
providing bespoke support to staff.
Through this development programme it is hoped that staff will achieve a deeper
understanding of the day to day operational relevance of the NOS in race and diversity.
John Coxhead, Project Manager commented: “by approaching diversity holistically
through a workplace-based programme, we have the opportunity to bridge the gap
between classroom and operational reality. Through the (personal development
review) process, the steps made by staff to promote equality, diversity and rights can
be clearly evidenced and assessed.”
Simon Leckie, Skills for Justice‟s lead on diversity, leadership and management,
provided advice and guidance to the police in Derbyshire, as well as contributing to the
development of assessment guides for managers, and endorsing materials developed for
the manager‟s toolkit.
Both Derbyshire Constabulary and Skills for Justice were keen that the programme was
'more than just training‟. Criticism had been levelled at previous initiatives, which had
not addressed the pervasive barriers to achieving diversity that may exist within an
organisational culture.
It was also important for the programme team to overcome the negative resistance
some people had towards 'diversity' by emphasising the business case, as staff are also
working towards improving not only performance, but also neighbourhood policing and
community engagement - all core objectives for the police force.
Critically, there is help available to the managers tasked with getting their staff up to
the standard within the timeframe. A toolkit of resources forms part of the
development programme, including:
      The Implicit Assumption Test (IAT): A voluntary and anonymous psychometric
       tool to help individual staff members review their personal commitment to
       diversity in terms of their own prejudices and preferences.
      Video clips to bridge the gap between the standards and „on-the-ground‟
      „Champions‟ to support managers out in the field.
The IAT was developed by Harvard University and adapted by Kevin Bampton, Head of
Law at the University of Derby. The computerised test shows individuals a series of
images and assesses individual responses – including the time taken to respond.
Participants receive a report highlighting the underlying assumptions they may have. It
is therefore a sensitive and potentially powerful tool for the individual. This is why it is
important that the test is both voluntary and anonymous – so that it does not feed into
performance review, for example. However, it is hoped that the anonymised data from
the test could be used to create benchmarks for staff performance and, ultimately,
trend data by rank and region.
The team also developed a series of videos clips to illustrate how elements of the
occupational standards are relevant to everyday policing. The clips address issues of
social class, power relationships, organisational culture (even canteen culture) and the

interaction between support and operational roles. Used as case studies, the clips
promote discussion over what effective policing performance „looks like‟, a key step in
driving future performance improvement. The project team have also shown the videos
to community groups in Derbyshire to integrate community views into the development
process to assess what „good‟ policing means to them.
Two highly respected staff in the constabulary have also been trained as „Champions‟
to work full-time on the programme for the first six months. One of the Champions,
Teresa Peltier, commented: “my role is essential to providing programme continuity,
driving performance and showcasing good practice - in particular for the managers
within the force who are unsure of how they can find the time to support their staff.”
The Champions provide the continuity needed by providing day-to-day workplace
support for managers. Part of the Champion‟s work has been to practically demonstrate
to some managers how they can relate both staff assessment and the occupational
standards to all areas of the workplace.
Key lessons
Derbyshire Constabulary has been actively promoting the programme to other police
forces in the East Midlands and beyond. According to John Coxhead, “by marketing the
programme more widely we are able to share learning and good practice with other
forces and reinforce the concepts and ideas underpinning the course.”
Similarly, Skills for Justice is keen to showcase the programme to other police forces as
a good practice example in the context of the Home Office Strategy. Simon Leckie adds
“What‟s particularly impressive about Derbyshire‟s approach is that they have
developed their programme to tackle diversity as part of a much wider cultural change
programme and are highlighting that promoting diversity is a critical element of
managing and leading people. Derbyshire have also made the crucial link between
diversity and day-to-day policing by focusing on the practical application of the NOS
using examples that everyone can relate to.” Several other police forces have now
purchased the programme to run in their own areas, and formative evaluation is being
shared for continuous improvement.

From the desk to the road
Funded by the Scottish Executive, the Women with Wheels initiative
led by Skills for Logistics is about tackling the barriers that prevent
women entering the road haulage industry as drivers. The initiative
was based on a piece of SSC-led research that explored the barriers,
and found that how the opportunities were marketed was critical. It
offers tailored theoretical input, an LGV (Large Goods Vehicle)
Licence and an S/NVQ level 2 in Driving Goods Vehicles. By providing
the sector with skilled and flexible workers, Women with Wheels
has some key lessons to share.
The road haulage industry has an ageing workforce and a shortage of new drivers
entering the sector. Yet less than 2% of UK drivers are female. In Scotland, the
proportion is even lower. There are women working in the logistics sector, but typically
in warehousing and administrative roles.
At the same time, there are pressures on employers in terms of the wider working
practices in the sector. The EU Working Time Directive have had significant
consequences for a sector based around long-distance driving and extended shifts. It
means that employers require greater flexibility in working practices, as it is
increasingly difficult to meet customer demands with a predominantly full-time drivers‟
Sheila McCullough from Skills for Logistics observes “employers cannot ignore the
potential benefits of women as drivers. There is a pool of women who are interested
in driving, but who‟ve not been targeted well enough to consider applying for jobs”.
The message is that employers need to be educated in how to attract women drivers if
they are going to address their recruitment and skills issues.
Taking action
Given the challenges facing the sector, the Scottish Executive funded Skills for Logistics
to explore the nature of the barriers to women becoming drivers. The research,
undertaken in late 2004, produced some interesting results. It found a series of „real‟
barriers to entering the sector, which were common both to women and men –
including perceptions of long hours, lack of respect from the public, and poor and
infrequent truck stop facilities.
However, there were also „unreal‟ barriers for women specifically, including the
misconceptions that LGV driving requires physical strength and that employers are not
interested in hiring women drivers. This last point was mirrored in the research by an
assumption among employers that women are not interested in becoming drivers.
The research showed that employers needed to target recruitment strategies directly
at women. As a significant first step, it recommended that employers initially target
the women already employed in non-driving roles within the sector, as it was relatively
easy to „sell‟ the role to them, on the basis of more interesting work, better pay, and

flexible hours. With 15% of the sector‟s workforce being female and many seeing
driving as an option, this was a pool to tap into.
Learning from the research shaped an initial pilot (known as Women with Wheels) in
the first two months of 2005. It aimed to train a new vanguard of women LGV drivers in
Scotland. The pilot offered 15 places for women already in the industry, who were
sponsored by their employer and therefore had a likely driving job at the end. It has
quickly emerged that little effort was needed for employers to get on board. “A good
driver with good training is always something I am looking for‟ confirms Goss Philips,
from Suzylink, a driving agency in Scotland: „I need a positive attitude and flexibility in
my business and these women provide it”.
The Women with Wheels programme can provide employers with flexibility, which can
range from half-admin half-driving jobs to women taking up flexible shifts that suit
their needs and their employer‟s needs. For example, since she completed the
programme, Natasha Walsh from Suzylink works the night shifts. This suits her employer
who explains that “it is not a shift that drivers always ask for, but Natasha likes to
work these”. According to Natasha, a single mother, “when I work nights my child does
not miss me because I can see him during the day and do things mums can do. Being a
driver and having the possibility to work nights is perfect for me”.
Driving can also be an excellent career option for people looking for flexible working. In
the case of short-distance work, an employer does not necessarily want to place a full-
time driver because of the Working Time Directive. For short delivery, it is therefore
useful to have drivers who wish to work part time to suit family responsibilities.
Suzylink has also found that female drivers can make the industry more attractive to
other women and men. Goss Phillips recollects: “I had a man call me up one day saying
that he saw a women jump out of one my trucks, which he was pleasantly surprised
about. It made him think of it as a career option. Now I need more workers overall, so
this is a nice spin off”.
Providers also see it as an opportunity to approach training sessions from a different
angle. Matthew McMaster from provider Orion explains that ‟women might not be as
used as men to mechanics initially, however they learn as fast as their male
counterpart‟. As a provider, „you need to be aware of not making assumptions‟. There
is also evidence that in a short time the pilot has had a wider impact beyond the
women directly involved. As Matthew explains, „before Women with Wheels, 1 in 50
calls was from a women, now we get 1 in 25 calls relating to a women enquiring about
an LGV licence‟.
The pilot was a good start: All 15 women acquired an LGV licence and have since gone
back to their businesses. At Suzylink, two women from the pilot are now full-time
drivers, and another participant filled a gap at Stirling Council and got a new role
driving a recycling vehicle.
The Scottish Executive reports that the pilot‟s numerous success stories led to more
press coverage than most projects they fund. The critical factors were that the pilot
was well-evidenced and had a direct impact on the people and employers involved.
There is a demand for stories like Women with Wheels in the press, but it remains that
women themselves in their trucks are the best marketing and dissemination tool.
According to the Sheila McCullough, “the more common it is for people to see women
driving trucks, the more likely women are to consider this as a mainstream career
option. We have seen this happen in passenger transport where no one is surprised by

a female bus driver. Now we need to reach the same critical mass of female lorry
The pilot has evolved into part of a wider programme. The Scottish Drivers Training
Scheme (SDTS) allows 1,000 candidates to obtain an LGV licence and an additional
S/NVQ level 2 in Driving Goods Vehicles. The SSC offered to ring-fence 40 places
exclusively for women, something the Scottish Executive immediately agreed to,
considering the successful completion rate from the pilot‟s participants. The Women
with Wheels programme now offers 40 women the opportunity to obtain an LGV licence
plus an S/NVQ Level 2 through five different providers. SDTS subsidises the direct
training cost and the employer‟s contribution is the salary of the trainee during time
off for training. With its S/NVQ element, it introduced a further learning aspect that
has long been lacking in the driving profession. “Training beyond licence-related
aspects is not mainstream in the sector”, explains Sheila McCullough.
Key lessons
The pilot and subsequent training programme have raised a number of key lessons for
successful delivery:
      Making sure that there is an investment and an SSC brand gives the programme
       credibility, and employers so far appreciate the return.
      Word of mouth has been a critical success factor at this stage and to everyone‟s
       surprise. This reinforces that there is indeed a need and a demand for female
       drivers in the sector to which Women with Wheels provides a solution.
      Having a qualification attached to the licence was something many women
       coming from an office background were comfortable with and attracted to. The
       S/NVQ thus forms part of the package.
Tapping into SMEs remains difficult, and not providing more than one category of
licence has its limitations in terms of types of trucks that a candidate can drive.
However, Suzylink is already looking for Natasha, who took part in the pilot, to obtain
the next licence (C+E Class), indicating that development does not stop when the
programme does.

Promoting diverse talent
in the media
Promoting talent from under-represented groups can produce
inspirational results. Skillset‟s Millennium Awards have done just
that, developing raw talent into community broadcasters of the
Ethnic and cultural diversity is a key business driver in broadcasting. The explosion of
small, specialist TV channels on the expanded satellite, digital and cable networks are
attracting an ever-increasing proportion of the ethnic minority audience. Attracted by
programmes made by people from their community and exploring pertinent local or
cultural issues, there is both a significant potential audience and, as a result, an
effective case for diversity.
Skillset‟s regular census of the sector notes that while the audiovisual sector has a 7%
BME workforce, which is broadly representative of the UK population, half of the
industry is based in London (where the BME population is 35% of the total).
Taking action
Skillset‟s Millennium Awards project was set up to identify talented individuals from
black and ethnic minority communities and provide them with the skills, confidence
and contacts that are needed to forge successful media careers. The project ran in four
rounds from 2001 to 2004. It received around £1 million funding from the Millennium
Commission (lottery funding) and around £150,000 (a mixture of cash and in-kind
funding) from a key potential beneficiary: the BBC. The project was co-ordinated and
managed by the SSC.
A nationwide talent search was conducted, with ethnic and local press, local and
national TV and radio stations all broadcasting the call for talent. Skillset staff pounded
the streets, speaking at youth clubs, community centres and local pubs to find people
with talent, commitment and ideas, but who lacked the confidence or skills to push
themselves forward.
Applicants had to pitch an idea for a community-based media project that could be
produced with Skillset‟s support. In total, 105 people were selected for the training
phase. A successful media training programme must combine the right mix of technical
training and experience, both to equip trainees with the skills to operate in a high-tech
industry and to provide them with the experience to make valuable contacts and keep
expectations real. In an industry with so much glamorous appeal, beneficiaries had to
understand quickly the need for hard work and lose any notions of effortless fame.
The balance between the training and experience was enabled by the commitment of
the BBC. It provided training in: professional journalism skills; radio journalism &
production skills; video camera & film skills or new media production skills. The mix of
training courses and the allocation of placements was determined by the interests and
project ideas of the beneficiaries.

In addition to these valuable skills, the trainees received:
      facilitation training, PR, fundraising and marketing workshops (including, at
       least two weeks‟ training with the BBC);
      a BBC work placement within their desired media (at least one week);
      regular follow up information sessions;
      mentoring sessions at Skillset and the BBC;
      access to a Skillset Careers advice session;
      a showcase event to exhibit their completed projects and receive a fellowship
       from the Millennium Commission.
This range of training and placements equipped beneficiaries not only to produce their
own media project, but also allowed them to pass on their skills to others in their
In total, beneficiaries spent nine months undertaking the training – which took place in
and around their regular lives. They received support to cover transport and
accommodation costs to ensure that the project was accessible to all communities.
The impact of the Millennium Awards can be seen at two levels, the individual and the
At the individual level, there has been notable success:
      Dami Akinnusi‟s project, a short film showcasing young British MCs has been
       screened across Europe and promoted worldwide as an example of UK film and
       music talent. On the strength of this success, Dami has set up her own television
       production company, Darkling Productions. She has recently secured her first
       broadcast commission.
      Sheffield based „Johnny P‟ John Pitts, graduated with a Millennium Award in
       2004. Soon after he worked as a presenter for SKY‟s Trouble TV. In September
       2005 Johnny P secured the lead presenters job alongside Mylenne Klass and
       Lauren Laverne on ITV pop show CD:UK. Johnny P said “with the help of Skillset
       and the BBC I feel I have developed what seemed like an ambitious idea, into a
       tangible reality”.
Broadcasters also gained from having Millennium Award placements. Amber Dawson, a
senior producer in BBC Radio Scotland worked with Millennium Award winner Makonen
Michael. She explained that “ideas are the life blood of any programme so it's really
important to have new perspectives feeding into the ideas process. Mackonen brought
a fresh outlook that helped pinpoint contributors we hadn't thought of and played an
active part in generating ideas.”
The success of the Millennium Awards has led directly to the development of the Open
Door project, a London-based scheme running along similar principles. Natasha Williams
of Skillset said “it was never a question of if Millennium Awards would carry on, just a
question of how.” The Open Door project has widened the scheme to include more
broadcasters, including Channel 4 and Channel 5, with renewed and extended
commitment from the BBC. A greater range of placements are now available across the
industry and £420,000 of ESF funding has been secured.

Key lessons
Carol Jacobs, the Millennium Awards project manager said that one of the keys to
success was the extensive talent search. Local media campaigns were used to make the
awards seem more accessible than adverts in the national media, but most important
was the “flat foot hustling” around youth clubs and community centres that brought
Skillset staff face-to-face with the potential talent around the country.
As a result of taking only the most talented and committed, the media projects that
were produced were of exceptional quality. This has boosted the profile of the awards
and encouraged other broadcasters to offer placements that, while not funded, offer
the awardees the chance to make contacts in an industry where getting a break is

Jobs for the girls
Computer Clubs for Girls is a flagship programme for e-Skills UK. It
is designed to change the attitudes of a generation of girls towards
the IT industry. By starting young and involving 10-14 year old girls
in after-school clubs which use IT in exciting, creative and sociable
ways, the old stereotypes of a male-dominated IT industry may
begin to fall away – and at the same time help to create the IT
professionals of the future.
Women currently comprise only 20% of employees within the IT industry. As the sector
continues to grow, skills shortages are predicted unless IT employers can attract a
wider base of talent. With women so significantly under-represented, a recruitment
drive that focuses on young women could dramatically reduce theses shortages.
However, the outdated stereotypes of „nerdy‟ or „geeky‟ IT professionals must be
overcome if the industry is to appeal to all.
This was the premise for Computer Clubs for Girls (CC4G), which was first piloted on a
regional level in 2003. The impetus for the club came primarily from employers, who
saw the clear business case of involving more young women in the IT industry. The
CC4G board consisted entirely of senior executives from leading IT companies such as
IBM, Dell, Fujitsu and T-Mobile. They have ensured that the technical and staffing
requirements of CC4G can be met as well as promoting the club widely in their own
organisations and throughout the industry. Initial investment came in the form of £2.8
million from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) whose economic
development plan relies on sufficient skilled workers to fill the predicted IT vacancies
in the medium term.
Taking action
e-Skills UK developed the concept of CC4G to tackle the gender stereotypes relating to
IT before they become cemented in the minds of young women. The concept is based
around running after-school clubs exclusively for girls between 10 and 14. It was hoped
that at this age girls would be most receptive to new ideas, and volunteers from the IT
industry could provide them with positive role models and open up the possibility of a
career in IT.
The club is designed to capture the interest and enthusiasm of girls. As such the course
materials address contemporary music, celebrity, design, media and fashion, allowing
girls the opportunity to engage with things they enjoy while also learning valuable IT
skills. The national curriculum is also followed, although there is some suggestion the
CC4G materials have enabled many participants‟ IT skills to outstrip national curriculum
The social aspect of the club is also crucial. Employer skill needs go further than
technical ability and enthusiasm. Cross-cutting skills such as team working and critical
thinking are also key skills for the technology workers of tomorrow.
The pilot was rolled out to 3,500 girls between the ages of 10-14 in the South East. The
pilot programme took place over two years to ensure that it would be fully operational

when it was rolled out nationally. It was based around a strong model of employer
involvement from the start. The CC4G Board has steered the project from day one. This
has enabled close links with large employers and demonstrates the commitment of the
industry to increasing the number of women entrants.
Volunteers from large IT employers have also linked up with each school to provide
support to teachers and students. For example, IBM has pledged 100 volunteers from
their UK workforce. These volunteers, having been fully trained, go into local schools at
least twice a term to help teachers and girls. This support may be technical, but it is
often about just being on hand as a helper.
Ros Coffey, Volunteer Coordinator at IBM said: “Volunteers enjoy the totally different
environment that CC4G offers; we are really just showing girls how to use tools that
we use every day…After going once, most of our volunteers are hooked on CC4G, many
going back every week. It is so rewarding to see young girls being inspired by
innovative use of IT”
The reactions from girls themselves are encouraging: 66% say that they are more likely
to pursue careers in IT having attended CC4G. Also, not only are they engaging with
technology, but the club environment provides a creative social experience to develop
the softer skills that employers demand.
In June 2005, CC4G was rolled out nationally. Significant funding to support this has
been provided by DfES and others as part of e-Skills UK‟s Sector Skills Agreement. A
large launch event was held at the DTI conference centre. Representatives from all
major technology sectors were invited, as well as senior figures from education -
including Phil Hope, the then Minister for Skills. The event itself sought to
communicate the vibrancy of CC4G, including an atmosphere of loud music, fashion and
media, all facilitated by the technology the club promotes.
By September 2005, the first term of the expanded project, CC4G was running in 750
schools representing 13,500 girls. It is clear from the rapid growth that schools are
recognising the worth of the project. There are also clear benefits for teachers who are
trained to run the clubs – often this increases the teacher‟s abilities and confidence in
Looking ahead, e-Skills UK has an ambitious target of 150,000 girls from 3,600 schools
participating by 2007/8. If more girls can be persuaded that technology is a desirable
career option, traditional stereotypes will die away as the new generation moves
through the industry.
Key lessons
Among the lessons from the project so far have been the following:
      Involve employers from the start - The involvement and commitment of senior
       industry figures provided the impetus for the project to evolve successfully and
       expand quickly
      Throw a vibrant launch - The launch event provided an opportunity for senior
       figures to actively demonstrate their support. The event reflected the ethos of
       the project, involving young people and providing an ideal opportunity for
       company directors to be seen promoting a scheme they support.
      Provide an industry specialist to support each school - This ensures that the
       material remains at the cutting edge. Young people‟s career choices are also

heavily influenced by role models – by providing energetic volunteers, employers
can boost their profile to new recruits as well as inspire and reward their

Talking with tenants
Understanding and responding to the needs of tenants is a key
priority for local authorities and housing associations in Wales.
Asset Skills is training housing officers to appreciate and understand
different cultures and develop multi-cultural communication skills.
Asset Skills, the Sector Skills Council for housing, facilities management, cleaning and
property, has been in the process of identifying skills gaps within the housing industry.
In 2003, the SSC‟s Welsh arm (Asset Skills Cymru) conducted detailed research in
association with Education and Learning Wales (ELWa), CIH Cymru, Cymorth Cymru and
a local provider (North East Wales Institute) to identify skills that would most usefully
improve the competence of housing staff. One of the clearest findings to emerge was
that housing officers lacked multicultural awareness.
The priority of multicultural communication skills was further boosted in 2004 when the
Welsh Assembly passed the BME Housing Action Plan. This required all housing
associations and Local Authorities to take a range of actions to ensure the BME groups
are fully included in all housing associations and local authority housing. For example,
it served to highlight the need to take account of BME groups in housing decision
Pauline Peregrine, head of Asset Skills Cymru recalled that: ”many landlords were
suffering from rent arrears and were having to implement widespread possession and
eviction orders…. We thought that pinpointing the skills requirements of staff who
work directly with tenants would enable them to build better relationships and solve
problems more quickly than before.” In short, there was a clear business benefit to
improved service provision.
However, the commercial drivers for pushing diversity issues within the housing
industry are complex. With a shortage of housing, Local Authorities and Housing
Associations are not subject to strong competition with other organisations for their
tenants. However, research consistently suggests that BME groups are less aware of the
services on offer and so are not accessing available services.
Another strong driver for better BME and cross-cultural engagement relates to the
appropriate design of housing stock. Houses designed by social landlords should reflect
the needs of their tenants. To give an example of where this was found to be wanting,
some cultural and religious requirements can not be met adequately if landlords
provide only a bath with no shower. Situations like this have led to tenants showering
by using makeshift showers resulting in spillage and damage to the property. Culturally
aware design can prevent problems of this kind.
Taking action
In partnership with the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, North East Wales
Institute (NEWI), Cymorth Cymru, ELWa Skills Development Fund, and Goulding
Associates, Asset Skills researched and designed a multicultural communication skills
course to address the gaps in awareness among housing officers.

The courses ran over two days in Cardiff and at NEWI in Wrexham. The 35 participants
were drawn from across Wales and all worked as housing officers or managers within
Local Authorities and housing associations.
The aim of the course was to:
      Improve verbal and non-verbal communication skills;
      Improve customer care skills in dealing with tenants from diverse backgrounds;
      Help participants understand their own values as well as the value systems of
The facilitator was an experienced housing professional who brought a wealth of
experience dealing with a wide range of tenants from diverse backgrounds.
The course materials use scenarios to consider, among other things, conflict resolution.
Attendees discuss how to resolve a dispute between neighbours who objected to each
other‟s cooking smells. Practical tips are given about finding and working with suitable
translators, the greetings expected by different cultures and the interpretations of
body language by different cultures. The course material includes a great deal of
background information about cultural differences that attendees can review on their
own as well as in the training sessions
This pilot stage of this course has clearly had a great impact on those who attended:
      The knowledge gained was certainly the starting point for a many of the
       participants. One housing officer commented that: “Nowhere else do we learn
       about the details of other religions and cultures. It should be mandatory for
       any housing officer.” Another noted that the course helped her interact with
       tenants: “I learned so much about other cultures – before I had no idea that
       something as simple as refusing a cup of tea could cause offence”.
      The curiosity of participants was also inspired: “It made me want to find out
       more about the cultures of my tenants,” said one housing officer.
      The course also encouraged participants to challenge the views of others: “Now
       I have the confidence and the knowledge to challenge the assumptions of my
The success of the pilot project suggests that if provision is scaled up, the effects could
be felt throughout the industry. Informing and influencing the views of frontline staff
is crucial if tenants‟ needs are to be catered for throughout the housing industry.
Key lessons
A strong research base and a clear national policy driver for the project ensured that
participation was strong and that the issues covered were timely and relevant.
Feedback from the housing officers suggests that the quality and experience of the
facilitator is key to its success. Course attendees reported that the facilitator‟s
knowledge of the day-to-day issues facing housing officers: ”…really made the case
studies come to life”.
One potential benefit of the course is that it can be easily modified to reflect the
communication needs of a wide variety of service industries. The information about
diverse cultures and religions applies across all industries and new case studies can be
devised to reflect the experience of a wide variety of professions, from law

enforcement to health and social care. Asset Skills have recognised this and have
already made the course available commercially to the Welsh housing market. It will
soon be available throughout England and plans are afoot to develop the course
materials for a range of other industries. Other applications within the Asset Skills
footprint include, for example, estate agents where there are also strong commercial
imperatives to fully understand the needs of a diverse client base.

Tailoring not only for
By tailoring training and providing bite-sized learning, Skillfast-UK
may have found an answer to two of the textiles sector‟s key issues:
the under-representation of women at senior levels and the need to
ensure that the inherent creativity and talent in the sector has the
management and leadership skills to run successful businesses. From
an SSC with experience in championing leadership and management
skills, „Women into Management‟ and „Wave‟ are two approaches
worth focusing on.
The textiles and clothing sector in the UK has undergone significant change to remain
competitive in the global economy. The manufacturing function is increasingly being
outsourced abroad to countries with lower labour costs. This has led to an increased
focus on skills at management level, alongside a move towards a design-, import- and
distribution-orientated sector, with production being managed at distance.
While the sector is evolving considerably in terms of its occupational and skills base, in
some aspects the status quo remains. Textiles and clothing retains a predominantly
female workforce at operational level (66% of the workforce in apparel manufacture),
yet managerial and executive positions are male-dominated (67% of manager roles are
filled by men). However, the nature of the shift in business focus – towards higher-end,
value-added skills – also presents opportunities. There is a recognition that parts of the
sector (that are predominantly female), which are based around design and creativity
skills, need to be harnessed and nurtured for the future health of the sector.
Taking action
Skillfast-UK, the SSC for the textiles and clothing sector, has responded to the sector‟s
emerging opportunities and developed programmes to:
      increase women‟s participation in business growth and creation in Wales
       („Women into Management‟);
      get more women into managerial positions in the North West of England
In both cases, the programmes focus on maximising the potential of the current female
According to Joanne Thomas, project manager of Women into Management at Skillfast-
UK, “there are 650 companies (in the sector) in Wales with over 8000 employees, but
research showed there is a shortage of designers in Wales and therefore a shortage of
business renewal. What was not clear is how this happened considering the vast
number of business start-ups by females in Wales”.

The fact is that many start-ups have the right ideas, but lack the leadership and
management skills to take a business forward or grow a production scale. Women into
Management was designed to effectively utilise the potential of women already in the
Welsh textile and clothing sector.
The programme, launched in 2005, is funded by the ELWa Skills Fund, and is supported
by the Welsh Management Council (WMC). It is led by Skillfast-UK and designed and
delivered by an experienced provider (CRG). Women into Management takes a highly
individualised approach to get nine women currently employed by the sector into
managerial positions and/or address specific managerial skills gaps. The SSC sought
applications from its list of registered companies in Wales and the most suitable
candidates were selected for the course.
Some participants are sole traders or already SME managers, while others are employed
and seek to acquire skills to take up a management position within their company. As
Debbie Roberts from CRG points out, “the key feature of this programme is that
women are recruited from the industry and their participation in the programme has
to have an immediate outcome - in the form of taking up a position in a business or
integrating a function into an existing business.” The potential offer of a management
position from the employer is therefore a pre-requisite for involvement.
The programme is tailored to individual need. The participants undertake self-
assessment through a standard psychometric test, complemented by an adapted
competency test. The women are then invited to analyse and understand the results
and identify how they can apply these to a work-based project over the next four
months. As a programme, Women into Management has the following critical features:
   The Psychometric and competence tests are key for customisation. As Andrew Rix
    from CRG points out, “it is a powerful mental tool”, to which Anne Waller, an SME
    owner and participant adds that “it helps focus on the real concerns, to pin them
    down and address exactly what is needed if I want to go forward without losing
    myself in a million other things I need to do in my business‟”. A longer-term
    objective is to encourage these women to become mentors for other women in the
   Every participant has a mentor from CRG. As Debbie Robert says, “the generation
    of immediate income often stops the longer term vision. The mentoring component
    and the programme try to focus the individuals on a specific managerial route to
    allow gradual and business relevant development”.
The programme also supports the sharing of knowledge and experience, as well as
wider networking between the participants. Andrew Rix stresses that: “this is a high
quality niche project for managerially driven and/or competent women who need
additional competencies to widen progress and growth for themselves and for
One of the selling points for the Women into Management approach is that different
aspects of management are being addressed by each individual. Joanne Thomas from
Skillfast-UK stresses, “managing a small business is very different from managing
people once a business starts to grow. This is when a manager needs to acquire
personnel management skills, and this project enables the beneficiary to just focus on
that aspect”.
In the case of Anne Waller, who has been in the embroidery business for 21 years and
has been managing 11 staff for many years, the focus is on applying just-in-time
techniques and on customer relations strategies. She can effectively use the Women

into Management programme to work on these aspects, while sharing her personnel
management skills with another beneficiary trying to grow her business as a sole
trader. “The networking is terrific”, says Anne, “so many female business owners and
so many similar problems we can face together”.
Another SSC-led approach, called „Wave‟, is tackling the wider occupational
segregation in the sector. “The business community is recognising that women are
under-represented in leadership and management positions”, says Steven Kay from
Skillfast-UK. Working with two Centres for Vocational Excellence (COVE) and using ESF
funding, Wave is targeting 60 women in the sector. Key components to the approach
are that it is not „over-burdening‟ and that it builds on the skills participants already
It will be delivered through bite-sized portions of learning, embedded in a formal
training programme – and is based around “the need for flexibility when designing
short module provision”, according to Kirsten Buckley from Skillfast-UK. “It ensures
that previous skills and capacities are adequately recognised and participants only
undertake the most relevant modules”.
Key lessons
The lesson from both approaches are that management training needs to be tailored
and customised in its content to be relevant to a need, an individual, a business and
the sector. The approach is different in both programmes, but they respond to similar
concerns. The focus on management skills also gives the work relevance beyond the
sector. This is partly why organisations such as ELWa have got involved. The current
Skills and Employment Action Plans and the recent Workplace Learning Review in Wales
have identified leadership and management skills as key priorities. Crucially, as Caitlyn
Davies from ELWa notes, it is the context of these diversity initiatives that makes them
so interesting. She describes Women into Management as “a forward-looking
programme that addresses the gender component, while covering wider business

Stepping into Construction
ConstructionSkills is supporting increased diversity in its industry by
offering training bursaries to employers to train under-represented
groups. Through its „STEP into Construction‟ scheme, the SSC is
taking a direct approach by effectively incentivising employers to
recruit and train women and BME groups. It is an example of a
successful, SSC-funded, locally delivered programme that can be
tailored to the needs of the individual.
The construction industry has traditionally been seen as the domain of the „white, male
builder‟. While there is some truth to this stereotype, ConstructionSkills is working with
its partners to open the construction industry to groups that have not traditionally
entered the sector. In particular, it is focusing on women and minority ethnic groups,
both of which are significantly under-represented in the workforce.
Currently, women comprise a tiny 1% of craft and trade workers. BME groups, while
accounting for 7% of the UK population, only account for 3% of craft and trade
occupations. This under representation can be set against the predicted shortfall in
construction workers that, if left unchecked, is likely to intensify as the volume of
construction work, particularly in and around London, is set to increase.
Taking action
The SSC, as a key player in the sector, is involved in various activities to address the
skills shortfall, including an annual „Positive Image‟ media campaign that targets young
people – and young women in particular – to join sector. In addition to this national
work, ConstructionSkills also runs local initiatives to actively attract under-represented
groups into the sector. One of the most interesting approaches in this context is „STEP
into Construction‟.
„STEP‟ is a fund provided by the SSC that can be used by employers and contractors to
provide for the training needs of new recruits who fit into one of the under-represented
categories (BME or female).
The programme is managed and delivered by ConstructionSkills‟ local offices, which
deal with applications from employers on a case-by-case basis. Unlike most sectors,
construction has a levy, which means that employers make a pooled contribution to
training costs. Yet in order to widen the focus of „STEP‟ as far as possible,
ConstructionSkills uses its core SSC funding to run the programme. The funding can
therefore be distributed to any employer in the sector, whether they are levy-paying
contractors, or, for example, housing associations building their own developments.
Recipient employers in London have included major contractors such as Mott Macdonald
and John Laing, as well as housing associations such as Notting Hill Housing Trust.
For example, the Notting Hill Housing Trust takes on 40-50 trainees annually, with a
target of 40% ethnic minorities and 10% women. STEP is typically available to 10 – 12 of
these trainees every year. The funding, which averages at £800 per eligible trainee at
the Housing Trust, can be used to cover the specific needs of the trainee, be that
childcare, tools, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or language training.

When an employer applies for STEP funding, a contract is drawn up between the local
ConstructionSkills Office and the employer specifying the commitments of each party.
The contractor or employer can use the funding in a variety of ways, as long as it is
agreed upfront with ConstructionSkills.
Damian Candish, Equal Opportunities Liaison Officer with London ConstructionSkills
made funding available to 40 trainees this year, and he feels that the openness of the
scheme is critical to its success. He says “the flexibility of STEP is a key advantage.
The London construction labour market is quite different from other areas of the
country; STEP allows the freedom to engage with local contractors and housing
schemes to deliver a tailored package of funding to reduce the financial burden of
taking on trainees”
The scheme also offers employers the opportunity to be more systematic in terms of
targeted recruitment. John Bryson is Employment Initiative Manager with the Notting
Hill housing Trust and he reports that “our Construction Training Initiative recruits
housing association tenants to work on social development schemes. Often they are
long-term unemployed and require a great deal of support to train and return to work.
STEP money gives us the extra leeway to achieve our diversity targets. It is such a
reliable source of funding that we can commit resources to target our marketing at
women and ethnic minority groups.”
So far the STEP recruitment targets have been exceeded year on year, and by 2010 it is
planned to fund the training of 900 women and BME individuals entering the sector.
      In 2002 the training target was 132 new recruits; 165 were trained
      In 2003 the training target was 132 new recruits; 238 were trained
      In 2004 the training target was 200 new recruits; 267 were trained
      The target for 2010 is 900 individuals, but with STEP‟s performance thus far,
       this target could also be outstripped.
The impact of STEP into Construction can also be seen in the reactions of those
involved. One trainee working with the Notting Hill Housing Trust said: “The work
experience was great. I got the opportunity to work with two qualified painters and I
learnt loads about the trade. I learnt a lot about many aspects of site work including
the types of materials that are used, what sort of challenges you face on site and how
to overcome them.”
Damian Candish adds that: “STEP and other schemes promoting diversity within the
construction industry can have a powerful impact on individuals, but crucially schemes
of this kind can change attitudes within the industry”. Ultimately, he says, it is
something that will “open (construction) up to a larger and more diverse pool of
talent”. With the planned growth of the STEP scheme, and more contractors and
housing associations applying to the programme, Candish‟s ambition to change
attitudes towards and within the industry may be realised.
Key lessons
As the STEP programme is run locally, it means that the priorities of the local
contractors and the labour force can be fully reflected in the level and nature of the
The ease of access to the funding has also led to high demand. As employers deal
directly with a local ConstructionSkills officer, complicated and bureaucratic processes

that often surround funding applications are avoided. The personal involvement of the
local equal opportunities officer not only makes the scheme more targeted, but it
forges valuable links with employers which can be used to further promote diversity.

Women for modern rural
Rural businesses are changing rapidly. Competitive pressures mean
that there is a growth in the number of micro businesses
diversifying from traditional land based industries. As these new
businesses grow, they are merging with existing industry, leading to
more complex management situations. Lantra‟s Women into
Management scheme is providing women with IT and management
training to ensure that they have a central role in the
modernisation of the rural economy.
Although there has been a strong training ethos throughout the land-based industries,
this has previously confined itself to more technical learning. There has been a lack of
management, business and soft skills training that many feel is necessary for the land-
based industries to diversify and thrive.
The pressure to diversify is increasingly apparent. The reduction in subsidies and the
driving down of prices by supermarkets and global competition has led to a situation
where the land-based businesses must consider expansion away from traditional
A degree of gender diversity already exits within the sector (30% of the workforce is
female; rising to 33% of managers). Many businesses are run around family units. The
balance of traditional „agricultural work‟ falls mainly to men. Yet diversification is
often led by women, who may have a wider set of skills from having worked in other
contexts. While these women are well-placed to develop new businesses, they typically
lack the experience of setting up and running their own small businesses. If these
women are equipped with business and entrepreneurial skills, they can drive the
diversification of the UK land-based industry that is vital if it is to thrive in the
increasingly competitive climate.
Taking action
In 2003, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire LSC, co-financed by the
European Social Fund, allocated funding to address rural skills shortages, focusing
particularly on women in rural areas. Lantra, the Sector Skills Council for the land-
based industries, took the opportunity to address these two areas in combination –
targeting women who are diversifying and equipping them with the necessary skills to
start up and run successful rural micro businesses.
It was clear from the outset that it would be difficult to identify women running – or
starting to run – businesses diversifying from traditional land-based industry. It would
also be challenging to design training fitted around their on-going responsibilities. In
order to address this, it was decided to contract the training through the Vale Training
Group, a supplier of training to the land-based sector for nearly 30 years. Now run by
Kate Mason, the business itself typifies a successful diversification from farming that,

through its activities, retains close links with agriculture as well as wider rural
Women were identified at a local level in and around Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and
Milton Keynes and 43 businesses underwent a skills check designed by Lantra to identify
the training needs. The courses offered under the remit of this project include IT skills,
a variety of NVQs delivered around the needs of individual participants, mentoring
qualifications to ensure that the beneficiaries‟ skills can be shared with other women,
and a leadership and management course accredited by the Institute of Leadership and
Management. A wide range of businesses have been included in the programme
including farms shops, horticulture and furniture sales.
The impact of the courses will not be fully felt until the women have completed the
course, but already there have been considerable improvements for individuals. Jane,
the company secretary of a small landscaping company is a mother returning to work.
Her secretarial training in the 1970‟s did not provide for the IT-based management of
modern businesses. Her landscaping company, with a small, traditional business model,
had not implemented any modern practices.
The training provided by the Women into Management scheme gave Jane the
knowledge to use online banking, payroll and accounts systems, but, more importantly
she says: “the support from the small group meetings, training sessions and tutors has
meant that I had the confidence and knowledge to diplomatically introduce wide scale
changes within the business. The efficiency gains have been so dramatic that now I
have more freedom than ever before!” Jane went on to explain: “For example, it‟s
very difficult to convince people to change from a weekly to a monthly pay schedule,
but with support and guidance from Kate and the project, I helped them understand
the benefits. This has freed up so much time I am teaching the managing director to
use email!”
Key lessons
The success of the project is mainly attributed to its clear focus on the needs of women
diversifying within the land-based industries. It was clearly understood from the
beginning that the project must have a strong local champion to reflect the local
nature of the rural micro businesses that it is aimed at. Lantra‟s selection of a small
local training provider who was known within the community ensured that the project
maintained this throughout.
Ensuring that the needs of participants were met has been key to the successful
recruitment and retention of the women undertaking the course so far. This includes
designing learning that was:
      Local: Due to time and family commitments, courses are run within a maximum
       radius of 20 miles from where the business is located.
      Child friendly: Most women taking part in the training have school-aged
       children; therefore sessions are never run during the holidays or at times when
       children will be at home.
      Short-term: All of the women are busy with their businesses. These can change
       rapidly and few women are keen to make long-term commitments to training
       courses. The learning is therefore designed in short packages that are more
       manageable and considered more attractive by the women targeted.

The seasonal demands on people working in land-based industries are also a driver for
courses being flexible and short term. It is felt that the way to encourage women and
men into these training schemes is to show how little commitment is required initially.
The Women in Management scheme has found that once a beneficiary has started one
course, they are far more likely to engage in further courses, as well as recommend
them to others and even send employees for training.
The economic drive for diversification is drawing more women into the management of
new rural businesses; without training and support in these new roles, the failure rate
of these businesses will limit the growth of the rural economy. In particular, the
project has highlighted the need for increased support for micro businesses within the
rural community. These support services should not only address business and
management skills, but they need to increase the confidence of women and men who
may have never believed that they would be able to start and run successful

A plum role for women
SummitSkills supported employers in Wales to develop an innovative
training project to meet skills shortages and an increasing demand
for trained female plumbers and heating engineers. Employers are
recognising the commercial benefits of providing a workforce that
better reflects the customer base and, in order to achieve this,
training programmes have to be delivered more flexibility and with
additional support provided to people with caring responsibilities
(predominantly women).
Employers in some sectors have woken up to the fact that diversity in traditionally
„male oriented‟ occupations can offer a commercial edge. Sector Skills Councils in at
least two industries have played an active role training up the new female workforces.
For example, in 2004, SummitSkills supported employers in Wales to develop an
innovative training project – called „Aquatec‟ – to meet skills shortages and an
increasing demand for trained female plumbers and heating engineers. It is an initiative
that draws parallels with the work of Energy and Utility Skills which, as part of its
flagship Ambition Energy programme, worked with Scottish Gas to train women Gas
Service Engineers.
Both SSCs cover sectors in which women are under-represented. Only a quarter (25%) of
the energy and utility sector workforce is female. Research undertaken by SummitSkills
revealed that women comprise less than 1% of the plumbing workforce.
A closer focus on the work of SummitSkills, the Sector Skills Council for the building
services sector, gives an insight into how the Aquatec initiative came about and what
makes it different from other training schemes. The key employer involved in the
Aquatec scheme was Connaught Plc. It was apparent to Connaught that demand existed
for female plumbers:
      Key clients were increasingly seeking to employ all-female teams of plumbers so
       that customers could be offered the option of female workers.
      Connaught had also recently experienced difficulties recruiting from traditional
       (young, male) apprenticeship markets in order to provide plumbing services to
       the social housing sector.
Taking action
Having identified a clear business case for diversity, SummitSkills Regional Operations
Manager for Wales, Kathryn Hopkins-Morgan teamed up with Caerphilly employer, Gas
Care and Building Services Training Ltd (now part of the Connaught Plc group) to
develop the Aquatec project. SummitSkills produced the bid to the Welsh European
Funding Office to receive European Social Funding (ESF) for the Aquatec project, which
would train up to 50 women in Caerphilly.
Most of the women involved in the project were unemployed, and some had been long-
term unemployed. The Aquatec project provided training for nationally recognised

qualifications and, importantly, the opportunity to pursue a sustainable career with
Connaught Plc or other employers in the region.
The first ten women who passed the initial interview started training in August 2004,
with two further groups of ten women beginning in January and June 2005. While the
project itself has been small-scale, its impact in terms of diversifying the workforce has
been significant. The participants range from 19 to 54 years of age and come from
varying backgrounds – including some lone parents, housewives or women with older
children or with caring responsibilities for elderly relatives.
Sixteen women have now successfully achieved a Level 2 NVQ and Level 2 Technical
certificates in plumbing and are now in the process of looking for full-time employment
in the sector and moving onto the achieving a Level 3 Apprenticeship to become fully-
qualified plumbing and heating engineers. Nine women have now been offered full time
positions as engineers with Connaught Plc; with the chance for real career progression
and a competitive salary.
Key lessons
Aquatec shares some important key success factors with Energy and Utility Skills‟
programme to recruit gas service engineers and operatives in partnership with Scottish
Gas (as part of Ambition Energy). The gas programme, which was funded by Jobcentre
Plus, specifically targeted unemployed female lone parents, but in both projects,
women were able to take part in the training because:
      the courses were structured around school hours
      childcare costs were paid for trainees.
Scottish Gas has benefited from a workforce that better reflects gas companies‟
customer base. Similarly, the Aquatec project has allowed Connaught Plc to address
the business case for diversity, by filling the gap for trained female engineers.
Connaught Plc is also keen to ensure that it supports the rebuilding of the social
environment within which it operates, so providing training and employment to
previously unemployed women is an important outcome. It also now has an increasingly
diverse and flexible workforce, which more closely represents and can respond to the
diversity within its client social housing organisations.
Roy Coleman from Connaught Plc commented that the project “has been a tremendous
success for Connaught Wales Ltd; we have been able to recruit top class plumbing
engineers who happen to be women. With female plumbing engineers on board it has
raised our work portfolio exposure into many different market and improved
productivity for the company.”
All the actors involved in Aquatec, return to the point that flexibility in delivery of the
training and the offer of support (as part of the project funding) were crucial to its
success. The offer of bespoke and customised training support ensured that women
with caring responsibilities could still participate.
Trainees were given a wage during the course, and, to address any barriers which
women may have experienced, transport to and from training was funded. Childcare
was available on- or off-site and funding support was made available for women who
had caring responsibilities.
The team felt that it was important to consider not only childcare but also other caring
responsibilities. Kathryn Hopkins-Morgan from SummitSkills commented that “it was

important to provide elderly care support to the trainees, as we are living in an
increasingly ageing society; we didn‟t want the trainees to leave the courses just
because there was no support available for home help, for example.”
Staff at Connaught Plc also provided essential support for the women through
mentoring arrangements, which were important to ensuring that trainees could safely
put into practice the training they had received. Paul Jenkins, Project Manager,
commented: “it is clear that the first wave of women who are now working as
engineers can now become the next generation of mentors for the female engineers
currently in training.”
The lessons from both Ambition Energy and the Aquatec project have the potential to
be transferred to other industries and sectors, such as:
      recognising the importance of capturing the business case for diversity, through
       the identification of key industry and client trends;
      sourcing appropriate funding for the training - providing the incentive and
       support needed to be able to develop the training package;
      successful partnerships working on the project, with open communication
       channels, creating the flexibility to deal with any problems or issues which
       arose as the project developed.
Kevin Dowd who has the lead role for equality and diversity within SummitSkills
commented that “increasing the numbers of female plumbers and engineers will help
to alleviate the skills gaps which exist in this sector, and ensure that positive female
role models exist to help transform perceptions about traditional career routes.
SummitSkills can also learn lessons from the Aquatec project to create similar
opportunities with more employers and training providers. “

Re-engineering for gender
The WISE campaign, which is associated with SEMTA, is one of the
most sustained programmes to promote a better gender balance. It
highlights the range of activities that can be employed to encourage
women to enter non-traditional careers – in this case in the science,
engineering and technology industries. It shows that fundamental
shifts in the workforce cannot take place overnight, and is
complemented by SEMTA‟s support for key employers, such as BAE
Systems, that are trying to take action themselves.
SEMTA, the Sector Skills Council for engineering, manufacturing and sciences, is
continuing its longstanding campaign to attract and recruit more girls and women to
enter these industries. The WISE campaign – Women into Science and Engineering –
shows the variety of „marketing‟ campaigns that can be effectively spear-headed by
As in many other sectors, the key driver is redressing traditional gender disparities,
increasingly to address current and anticipated skills shortages. There is clear potential
that employers are failing to capitalise on. Despite recent A-Level results showing that
girls are improving in subjects such as chemistry, physics, computing and technology
(and are getting more A and B grades in these subjects than boys), women are not
pursuing these subjects at university or in employment.
Data collected by SEMTA shows that women only account for 20% of the workforce
across the sector, compared with 46% of the economically active population. The WISE
campaign has been running for over 20 years supported by SEMTA and its predecessor
organisations. It shows the degree of concerted effort required to address gender
imbalance. WISE has helped to double the percentage of female engineering graduates
from 7% in 1984 to 18% today. Progress has been made, but there is still work to be
Taking action
Perhaps the most striking features of the WISE campaign are that it is such a sustained
attempt to shift the gender balance and that it uses a range of targeted initiatives to
make a difference. Key components to the WISE portfolio of activities include:
      Targeting young girls when they are beginning to think about future careers:
       The campaign involves work in schools to dispel myths about careers in the
       science and engineering industries. For example, girls are given the chance to
       have a taster about what a career in engineering might involve.
      Ensuring that those young women continuing to study relevant subjects in
       Further Education get to experience what the sector has to offer: Insight
       courses are available for young women studying maths, science or technology at

       A-Level to find out about engineering. Over the years, many young women have
       had the chance to undertake week-long, residential courses and experience
       „hands-on‟ activities, challenges and opportunities to meet professional
       engineers, lecturers and other students.
      Systematically capitalising on women already working in the sector as role
       models for future generations: SEMTA and the WISE campaign are keen to
       encourage more women into science and engineering by showing women as role
       models to champion the benefits of working in the sector to others. The
       „Speaking Out‟ project for example, is a database of successful women
       engineers and scientists who are willing to promote the profession in schools
       and colleges.
      Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) targeted at women: The campaign has
       also produced marketing material which promotes careers in the science and
       engineering sectors. A brochure for young women called 'A girl like you', for
       example, introduces the world of science engineering and technology in clear-
       cut language and acts as a gateway to the various WISE activities, publications,
       websites, courses and scholarships available for young women.
There is also a recognition that the national campaign has to be complemented with
support for specific employers to „open up‟ opportunities for women in the sector.
SEMTA is therefore keen to work with employers to improve the diversity of their
workforce. Christian Warden, Operations manager at SEMTA says that “many employers
can help improve access to training and apprenticeships, to make it more accessible
and relevant to non-traditional cohorts“.
For example, SEMTA has worked closely with BAE Systems to achieve this change. The
company has embraced the business case for diversity, recognising that a diverse
workforce drives greater innovation and better business performance. It currently has
over 1,000 apprenticeship opportunities, in areas ranging from engineering to business
administration and information technology. The company is actively involved in
SEMTA‟s sector strategy group to keep in touch with best practice, local initiatives and
developments across the sector. SEMTA has even developed a joint programme which
aims to specifically encourage more women into apprenticeships with BAE systems,
funded by North West Development Agency.
This has led to results on the ground. For example, BAE systems has received
accreditation under the Framework for Excellence in Equality and Diversity at their
manufacturing site in Prestwick. Uptake of female apprentices have increased 4% in
part because of active marketing campaigns, working with schools and the impact of
female ambassadors or role models such as Grace Johnstone, a BAE Systems Flight Test
Engineer recognised as the Young Woman Engineer of the Year in 2003.
Key lessons
John Male, head of training and skills at BAE Systems reports that it “want(s) to better
reflect the diversity of society, and encourage a diverse workforce because it enhances
our business processes. Through our apprenticeship programme we are training and
employing first class female engineers”. The quality of the learning offered is also
important. The majority of apprentices at BAE systems are part of a contract between
it and the Learning and Skills Council. Overall, the BAE Systems apprenticeship
programme has an 87% completion and retention rate, which is high compared to other
apprenticeship programmes, where retention rates can be as low as 24%.

In 2005, SEMTA published its Sector Skills Agreement, which is an explicit commitment
from all actors in the sector to take action to meet future skill needs. Among other
things, this puts the push for diversity onto an even firmer footing. Through Key
Performance Indicators in the Agreement, SEMTA is actively working with employers,
trade unions and strategic partners to focus on encouraging more females onto
apprenticeship programmes and to put in place targets and measures which facilitate
diversity across the sector.

Food for thought
Across the food manufacturing industries, managing the diversity of
the workforce is critical, especially in the context of the
increasingly „global‟ labour market. Providing a platform for 20
employers to share their practice might be just the way to go. With
a series of high-profile „managing diversity‟ seminars for businesses
across the country, Improve has found a way to respond to
businesses concerns, support the sharing of good practice and
potentially save businesses cost, time and improve their
As the skills and employment base of the UK workforce evolves, the sourcing of labour
has become a critical issue in some sectors. It goes hand-in-hand with an increasingly
„global‟ labour market. Significant numbers of jobs in parts of the food manufacturing
industry, for example, are being filled by overseas nationals.
Forecasts suggest that the sector will be short of around 200,000 workers by 2010 if it
relies only on UK-nationals. There has been an influx of workers, particular from the
new EU Member States, to the sector. Some employers recruit directly from other
countries to attract flexible and skilled workers. The pertinent issue in this sector is
therefore not so much about increasing the diversity of the workforce, but effectively
supporting and managing an increasingly diverse workforce.
Although a few employers proactively „manage diversity‟ as part of their non-UK
recruitment, many companies could benefit from adapting their recruitment processes
to recognise – and get the most from – their increasingly diverse workforces. This
relates to having a better understanding of the cultural, religious and personal
differences that come with diversity.
Key business issues include the following:
   The food manufacturing sector is highly regulated, and an understanding of the
    standards in place is critical for all employees. Being able to address the language
    barriers and ensure that options such as translation and ESOL training are
    considered should be a starting point for managing diversity.
   Understanding cultural and religious differences. These can range from adapting
    clothing to accommodate religious requirements, ensuring that male candidates are
    comfortable with having female supervisors, understanding limitations in the
    handling of certain types of foods, and understanding religious and cultural
The issues are prevalent across all sub-sectors nationally, and evidence suggests that
failing to manage diversity potentially impacts on productivity. If common practices to
integrate overseas nationals are widely introduced, then diversity could become a
strength instead of a cost resulting from misunderstandings, inadequate organisation
or, potentially, discrimination.

Research, by Improve, the Sector Skills Council for the food and drink manufacturing
and processing industries, suggests that diversity becomes a „cost‟ when businesses fail
to understand the basic measures that could save time and resources. A small number
of employers already acknowledge this and have introduced diversity integration
schemes. These range from the provision of ESOL training when recruiting from abroad
to providing accommodation.
Taking action
Improve is focusing on reinforcing good practice to encourage employers to better
manage diversity. It has introduced a series of „managing diversity‟ seminars and
workshops to enable employers to pick up and share new ideas. “Integrating diversity
into the working culture is something some employers are starting to have to face and
progressively address”, says John Nixon, Skills Development Manager at Improve, “and
the workshop presents these challenges and solutions and gets employers to think and
share together”.
Improve is not directly involved in introducing or delivering diversity integration
schemes with specific employers. “That is not part of the SSC remit”, says John Nixon.
He goes on to add that “what we can do, however, is pull-out good practice and
arrange seminars to disseminate it to other employers”.
A key argument for the SSC is that more sophisticated integration processes for new
workers would lead to improvements in staff retention and, ultimately, productivity.
“Employers know that. However, they also need to be geared up for it and have
adequate integration and inclusion processes in place to get the benefits out of
diversity – which is what the SSC is trying to do with the seminars” says John Nixon.
Each managing diversity seminar covers around 20 employers and costs £195 per
delegate. This includes a substantial resource pack that provides further details on the
issues and the laws covered in the seminar. They therefore focus on employers that
have recognised the case for managing diversity. The seminars focus on:
   Building the employer‟s confidence that others face similar issues and that solutions
    are often already out there.
   Building the employer‟s understanding of the issues and pitfalls in terms of the law.
   Encouraging employers to prevent the issues rather than solving problems when
    they emerge.
   Obtaining bite-size solutions that can be adapted by individual businesses.
Importantly the approach is generic enough to be largely transferable. Feedback from
employers so far indicates that Improve Ltd is “doing the right thing to address the
right things”.
As John Nixon explains, “the seminars are about employers building their own good
practice and what they get is a platform to do that. We cannot impose a framework on
a business because employers are the ones who understand their own context and
Potential „hard‟ benefits for employers include fewer discrimination cases relating to
poor recruitment practices. Employers in the sector also face important regulations
relating to health and safety and hygiene standards, but very limited training budgets.
Effectively using that resource „up front‟ with new employees – including overseas
nationals – is therefore paramount.

The SSC is marketing the workshops across the sector, which according to Carol
Dewhirst from Improve‟s marketing team “enables us to get to multiple companies and
interest groups”. The most recent workshop was requested and organised by the
Humber Group, an Agri-Food Skills Brokerage Service who obtained funding for the
event form Humber Learning and Skills Council, which further indicates an appetite for
it more widely.
For the SSC itself, there are also benefits in terms of building internal knowledge to
continuously improve and update the information held within the seminar pack.
Returning from the seminar, employers are equipped with new employer contacts, a
knowledge base for managing diversity, greater confidence to address potential issues
and ideas on how to move forward. As Cheryl Binyon from the Humber Group points
out, “this provision did not exist before and it definitely fills a gap and responds to a
growing, urgent need. Improve have effectively created a demand and provide a good
support mechanism to help employers implement good practice”.


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