Study raises questions over Investors in People Award

January 22, 2008

Minority groups lose out on training in workplaces that have won the Investors in People training award, new research shows.

A new study of almost 15,000 people by Nottingham University Business School found that a wider range of minority groups suffer disadvantage with regard to training provision in workplaces with the prestigious Investors in People (IiP) training award than elsewhere.

Women, ethnic minorities, temporary/fixed term employees, the disabled and older workers were all at more of a disadvantage in terms of training if they worked for an IiP-accredited employer, compared to those at non-IiP workplaces.

The research, conducted using data from the well-respected 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey, also found that IiP does nothing to boost training levels for many of these groups.

The results come as a surprise because IiP has required organisations to fulfil an equal opportunities 'indicator' with regard to the development of their employees in order to secure recognition, since it was extensively revised in 2000.

The new research suggests that large numbers of organisations are failing to meet this requirement.

Professor Kim Hoque of Nottingham University Business School, author of the research, said: "Although IiP requires organisations to uphold equal opportunities principles, it also requires them to gear their training provision to business need.

"In organisations where business need is narrowly defined, this often means developmental opportunities come to be targeted on a cadre of core value-creating professionals and managers, rather than the workforce as a whole. It does raise questions, though, as to how organisations are able to secure recognition despite failing to adhere to one of IiP's key requirements."

The results also suggest that the government was correct last year to reject the Women and Work Commission's recommendation to award IiP £1 million of public money to promote and spread equality and diversity best practice.

The research also found no evidence that IiP does anything to boost training levels for workers classified as 'routine unskilled'. Given that much of the government's skills strategy, following the recommendations of the Leitch review, is predicated on increasing the proportion of the adult workforce qualified to level 2, the suggestion here is that IiP may be contributing little if anything to the achievement of this target.

Professor Hoque's study examined the patterns of training incidence and duration of nearly 15,000 people, 46 per cent of whom were in workplaces with IiP recognition. It is due to be published in the Industrial Relations Journal.
-end-
Notes to editors:

Journal reference: Hoque, K 'The impact of Investors in People on employer-provided training, the equality of training provision and the 'training apartheid' phenomenon', forthcoming in Industrial Relations Journal. The paper is available on request from kim.hoque@nottingham.ac.uk

The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 70 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THES) World University Rankings.

It provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation -- School of Pharmacy).

Its students are much in demand from 'blue-chip' employers. Winners of Students in Free Enterprise for three years in succession, and current holder of UK Graduate of the Year, they are accomplished artists, scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators and fundraisers. Nottingham graduates consistently excel in business, the media, the arts and sport. Undergraduate and postgraduate degree completion rates are amongst the highest in the United Kingdom.

The 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey is sponsored by the DTI, the Economic and Social Research Council, ACAS and the Policy Studies Institute. It is nationally representative of workplaces with five or more employees. The response rate of the employee survey (used as the base for analysis here) is 64 per cent.

More information is available from Professor Kim Hoque, Nottingham University Business School, on +44 (0)115 846 6628, or +44 (0)115 981 9648; kim.hoque@nottingham.ac.uk; or Media Relations Manager Tim Utton in the University's Communications Office on +44 (0)115 846 8092, tim.utton@nottingham.ac.uk.

University of Nottingham

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