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MPs back REC proposals to make the Apprenticeship Levy more flexible to help women get the skills they need to “get on” in the workplace

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has spent a year working with the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Women and Work to determine measures that will help improve women’s experiences during the recruitment process and improve opportunities to progress in the labour market.

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The APPG have today launched a toolkit “How to Recruit Women for the 21st Century” which takes up the REC’s recommendation to broaden the apprenticeship levy to be used as a training and skills levy. Making the levy more flexible will allow many thousands more temporary workers to benefit from training. To improve fairness in recruiting and selecting candidates allowing women more opportunities in the jobs market, the APPG has also recommended the importance of using recruitment agencies affiliated with trade associations like the REC.

Recruitment & Employment Confederation Head of Policy Sophie Wingfield said:

“We are pleased to have worked with the APPG in creating this toolkit for employers. Diversity in the workplace has been proven to lead to better performance for organisations and reducing the pay gap would generate real benefits for the UK economy. Despite this, often unwittingly, organisations are reducing the likelihood of women getting jobs because of outdated recruitment processes.

“To ensure a step-change in diversity, employers need to take action to mitigate against bias. Key to this is reviewing hiring procedures and updating each stage of the recruitment process.  Amending job adverts to avoiding gendered language, and ensuring you’ve considered flexible working from the outset are just two examples that can help employers increase the number of women at application stage.

“The toolkit also highlights the benefit of working with recruitment industry trade association members. REC members all adhere to a code of professional conduct in which diversity is a core principle. Recruitment professionals are well placed to advise employers on how best they can make change happen.”

Jess Phillips MP, Co-Chair of the Women and Work APPG said:

“If employers are to successfully hire and attract the best, diverse talent, they need to take recruitment seriously and review their processes. This toolkit encourages employers and policy-makers to make those changes, giving practical steps that will go some way in shifting persistent obstacles that women face when entering and re-entering the labour market.”

Gillian Keegan MP, Co-Chair of the Women and Work APPG said:

“I’m really pleased that the Women and Work APPG examined recruitment during 2018 to highlight ways to overcome the particular barriers faced by women. We have published this call for action to employers, to encourage them to think differently about how, where and who they hire, as part of open and inclusive recruitment process. We’ve also called on government to support employers to do this.”

Commenting on the APPG’s adoption of the REC’s recommendation to broaden the apprenticeship levy into a skills levy that can be accessed by temporary workers, Sophie Wingfield said:

“The APPG adopting our recommendation to broaden the apprenticeship levy into a training and skills levy that can be used to train temporary workers is a good step forward to allowing women to progress their chosen careers. Our report, Getting On, showed that what temporary workers in key female dominated sectors, such as care, wanted most is access to training to help them “get on”.

“A flexible levy would also help more women to access jobs in key sectors that are finding it difficult to find the staff that they need. This mirrors the core recommendation from the REC’s Future of Jobs commission which said changes to the levy will benefit employers and ultimately the HM Treasury through productivity gains.”

The REC is urging the Government and employers to take note of the recommendations of the report, many of which build on our recent report Increasing Opportunity, supporting growth: the role of good recruitment in gender diversity, to improve the job prospects and career progression for women.

Read REC Getting on: what progression looks like for low-paid workers today