Age and Socio-Economic Inequalities in Access to Learning and Training in Later Life in the UK

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 14:45
Location: Hörsaal BIG 1 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Martin HYDE, Department of Sociology, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Chris PHILLIPSON, Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA), University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Background: The drive to extend working lives across Europe raises concerns about the level of skills and training amongst older workers. To continue being productive until later in life it will be necessary to update one’s skills throughout working life. This presentation will i) look at trends in engagement with learning activities in later life in England and ii) explore the impact of socio-economic and work-related factors on access to and engagement with learning activities in the UK.

Methods: The data are drawn from 2 nationally representative longitudinal surveys: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA) and Understanding Society (USoC). The samples are restricted to those aged 50-69 (ELSA, N~6400; USoC = 14,630). Participation in formal learning, i.e. work-related training, and non-formal or informal learning are analysed. Socio-economic position (SEP) is measured using a number of indicators such as education, occupation and income.

Results: The results show that those aged 50+ are less likely to engage in adult learning or to be offered work related training than younger age groups. Moreover the rates of participation in both formal and informal learning amongst the 50+ have been falling since 2004. There are also wide socio-economic inequalities in participation amongst older people. Those in lower SEP are much less likely to engage in or be offered learning and training. Those in full time work with fixed contracts are also more likely to engage in learning activities.

Conclusion: In order to support the drive towards fuller working lives the government and employers need to act to improve access to and participation in lifelong learning activities. Removing barriers to participation and reducing social inequalities in learning and training must be clear priorities to ensure that all can enjoy a fuller working life.