The Unequal Distribution of Employer-Provided Training. Empirical Findings and Sociological Conceptualisations

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 9:00 AM
Room: F201
Oral Presentation
Heikki SILVENNOINEN , Department of Education, University of Turku, Turku, Finland
The aim of this paper is to analyse learning and training opportunities, and participation in employer-provided training (in-company training, in-service training, personnel training). Which employee groups are trained the most? And who are those who do not participate in workplace training at all and who lack the learning opportunities? Employer-provided training has been theorized mainly by economists (originally Gary S. Becker [1964] Human Capital; Jacob Mincer [1962] On the job training: Cost, returns, and implications.) In economical literature employer-provided training has been conceptualized as human capital. Today when skills are the most important single asset an employee has in the labour market, sociological theorizing on employer-provided is needed. How should employer-provided training be conceptualized and theorized in relation work place hierarchies and class structure? What kind of capital workplace training is (e.g. Bourdieu)? The question is about class based skill strategies.

In international comparison the participation rate in employer-provided training is very high in Finland. What is typical for Finnish workplace training is its uneven distribution among employees. In the long run the participation in employer-provided training has grown. However, the differences in participation between levels of hierarchy (social classes) have been remarkably persistent. The differences have not diminished in 30 years.

The empirical data used in the study are The Adult Education Surveys by Statistics Finland. Adult education surveys study not only participation in education and learning and skills among the adult population; in addition, they produce data about people’s opinions and experiences of adult education, their motivations and willingness and need to participate in it, and obstacles to and preconditions for it. The data from the survey are based on face-to-face interviewing of a sample of more than 5 000 people. The survey 2012 was a part of a European co-operative project co-ordinated by the Statistical Office of the European Communities.