East Riding of Yorkshire Council supports the Humber Women in the Workforce project

Fri, 28 Jan 2022

Humber Women in the Workforce project supported by partners in East Yorkshire

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is leading on the delivery of the Humber Women in the Workforce project following £1.33 million of funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) and match funding provided by our project partners at Hull City Council, Source Solutions and the University of Hull.

The project provides training and support to over 600 women by developing their skills and increasing opportunities for progression, better equipping them to retain employment and progress within the Humber labour market.  

  • To deliver a range of support and training to tackle specific barriers to equality and enable them to progress in the workforce.
  • To engage with SME employers to help them to address inequality in their workplaces, providing support and training to promote positive culture change and introduce reviews of policies and procedures.
  • To create a network of influence and aspiration for young women in the Humber led by women.

The council will work alongside partners from Hull City Council, Source Solutions and the University of Hull to deliver the Humber Women in the Workforce project up to the end of 2023.

Nationally, the female employment rate remains lower than that of male employment (72.4%: 80.6%). Although more women are occupying senior roles in businesses, there are currently only 28% of women on FTSE 100 Boards. Inequalities in pay and opportunities continue with female full-time employee median pay at £528 compared to £628 for male full-time median pay (2019).

In terms of work being undertaken, women are overrepresented in occupations such as childcare, healthcare, retail and cleaning, where wages and opportunities for progression tend to be limited. 40% of women in employment work part-time, compared to 13% of men. Research also suggests that 74% of women are the main carer for their children, taking short or longer periods off work to look after family. On returning to work, women earn around 2% less on average for every year spent out of paid work. Similar findings occur in older populations also, where women are more likely than men to limit their career to care for spouses or elderly relatives.

It has been suggested that the current COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the existing gender gap. For example, women were disproportionately impacted by the 70% decrease in part-time jobs during the first 11 weeks of the pandemic, being three-quarters of the part-time labour force. Similarly, mothers have been 47% more likely to lose their jobs than fathers and more likely to be furloughed, according to a study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (2020), which also noted that their hours have been cut back 50% more.

The project takes inspiration from the Careers Strategy (2017), with many of the project delivery strands meeting the ambitions of the strategy head on.

  • The project will bring together training providers and industry and showcase these "inspiring encounters" and "excellent advice and guidance" with young women within education and in networking groups. The project will help young women to understand the full range of opportunities available to them, learn from employers about work and the skills that are valued in the workplace, and have first-hand experiences of the workplace.
  • The project will offer training specialists who can assess skills gaps and routes into sectors with in-demand skills. This "support and guidance tailored to individual needs" will help female participants to acquire new employment or progress in existing employment by accessing "free face-to-face advice with more bespoke support for those who need it most" including in general employability, basic skills and confidence.
  • The strategy also asserts that "using data and technology to help everyone make choices about careers" will be beneficial now and even more so in the future. Indirectly, this project supports this assertion by increasing aspiration towards technical-based careers and supporting women engaged in these fields to progress in employment or re-enter the labour market. Building upon linkages with industry, complementing activity from WiME and the Digital Skills Partnership, the project will meet present demand for future skills but will also support future progression, helping women of all ages in receipt of project support "to understand the job and career

opportunities available, and how their knowledge and skills can help them in considering suitable careers."

This project will deliver activities that will contribute to supporting workers (including older workers) and help British businesses to "redesign jobs and workplaces" to enable individuals to stay in work by offering "more flexibility to help balance their work" with other responsibilities.

Councillor Jane Evison, portfolio holder for economic development and tourism at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: "Being involved in this project allows us to provide training and support to over 600 women in East Yorkshire who are looking to develop their skills and increase their opportunities for progression in their careers.

"We will continue to tackle inequality in workplaces and put in place support and training to promote positive culture change, as well as reviews of policies and procedures. It is important that young women in the East Riding feel inspired and are influenced by positive role models currently in the workplace. This project is as much to do with benefitting women in the workplace now as it is creating a positive environment for young women to come into in the future."

Councillor Daren Hale, Leader of Hull City Council and Portfolio Holder for Economic Investment and Regeneration, said: "It is well known that diverse workplaces create stronger economic growth and productivity in businesses. By tackling disparity where it exists, fostering a culture of increased career aspiration and supporting women to progress within the workforce by developing their skills, this project will help to ensure that women are better equipped to retain employment and take advantage of increased opportunities that arise."

Richard Keegan, Faculty Director for Business Engagement and Enterprise at the University of Hull, said: "The University is committed to playing its part in shaping a fairer and brighter future for all. Therefore, we are really excited about this opportunity to work with our partners to help employers build genuine inclusivity in their businesses and to enable women in the region's workforce to realise their true potential as leaders and managers."

Sally Drury, Business Development and Learning Manager at Source Solutions, said: "Source Solutions are really looking forward to being a delivery partner on this project. Women have been waiting for this funding to be available. To be able to empower, boost confidence and upskill women of all ages, enabling them to progress in the workplace is really exciting. This is a project that is about change, legacy and making an impact to women's lives, not just now but for the future."

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