Lower-qualified women workers are faced with numerous discriminations on the labour market and the situation may become more difficult as the jobs traditionally occupied by lower-qualified women workers are endangered by the recent technological innovations. It is thus essential to design solutions to provide them with the skills matching with the current market’s needs.
Women are more vulnerable on the job market
According to the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, the rate of women’s activity has risen in the last decades whereas men’s rate has remained stable. Consequently, the gender gap has decreased from 23,8 percentage points to 10,9 percentage points.
However, some barriers to women’s participation in the economy persist. In Belgium, these barriers mainly concern the combination of domestic and professional life. The discriminations based on gender bring women to withdraw from the labour market, or if they are working, they occupy part-time jobs. According to the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men, 45% of women employees are working part-time in Belgium, whereas only 10% of men are.
Moreover, numerous jobs occupied by women are threatened by automation and digital revolution. This destruction of jobs can already be observed in the manufacturing industry where employees used to mainly be women. This reality highlights the urgency of equipping women with skills that better match the job market’s needs.
Traditional education do not provide future workers with new strategic skills
A 2017 study of the European Commission describes “transversal skills and the digital skills” as essential skills for workers to develop in order to match the needs of the current job market in Europe.
The study indeed demonstrates that today’s employers value their workers’ capacities of initiative and ability to adapt to new challenges and unfamiliar environments. The same study simultaneously indicates that a substantial proportion of students regret that they are not taught these entrepreneurial skills. Only half of the 15 years olds living in the European Union agree that their learning in school provides them with the tools to cultivate a sense of initiative and an entrepreneurial attitude.
Another study from the European Commission indicates that digital technologies are extensively used in workplaces in the European Union. For instance, 94% of European workplaces use broadband technology to access the internet. Therefore, most of today’s jobs require basic digital skills, such as the ability to run social media, to create digital documents or to monitor data protection. However, a significant number of workplaces report that their employees are lacking these skills. The OECD in fact identifies this shortage in digital skills as one of Belgium’s main challenges.
Gaining those strategic skills is thus the new challenge of education programs but access to high quality and relevant training remains difficult. This challenge should be tackled by lifelong education. Indeed, the European Union determined in 2016 that Europeans did not engage enough in lifelong learning and aimed to increase adult’s participation in training sessions. In 2016, Belgium was one of the countries with the lowest rate, with approximately 7% of people from 25 to 64 years old participating in adult lifelong learning. The European Union aims to reach a 15% participation rate of people from 25 to 64 years old.
Bridging the skills and gender gap
Revitalizing the Belgian economy demands new and innovative education programs that address the shortcomings of the traditional education system. This is why GenerationW intends to provide its candidates with entrepreneurial and digital skills. Therefore, GenerationW enables women and young women to engage in lifelong learning and to develop their skills to better match the current job market. As the program targets women that encounter discriminations, it supports women who are more likely to face unemployment or precarious forms of employment.
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