Gender in Vocational Training and Skills Development

Skills development and vocational education and training can make a decisive contribution to reducing poverty: it seeks to provide everyone with the qualifications they require to be part of the working world and find a reasonably paid job. Nonetheless, women remain at a disadvantage in gaining access to vocational education and training and thus to employment. As a result of their lower level of education in contrast to men, their household and care responsibilities, lack of marketable skills, poor economic condition and most of all, discriminatory social structures and practices, many women do not even qualify themselves and/or lack the time to start a vocational training or skills development programme. It is therefore important to ensure that the training courses are aimed at men and women alike and that women are not excluded due to uneven distribution of care and domestic responsibilities. In order to integrate women successfully into training courses, the other tasks that women often have to fulfil, such as their children's education, housework and fetching water etc. have to be taken into account.  

Furthermore, when carrying out an overall assessment of the job market, it is necessary to take into account the possibilities of employment in the informal sector, where women play a predominant role. The vocational training courses have to respond to the demands of the job market. However, one of the main challenges in this area is to bridge the gap between the skills of workers – particularly women – and labour market requirements. Enhancing women's access to natural resources and land governance in the rural areas simultaneously empowers women and improves food security. In urban areas, women need access to good-quality basic education and vocational training throughout their lives to enable them to secure long-term, well-paid employment.

If the occupational training projects do not improve women’s  real  access  to  all  types  of  employment  and  to  income  as  much  as – or more than – it does for men, then these projects will only replicate or, even worse, reinforce the existing gender inequalities.

Thematic Guidance Sheet: Gender & Vocational Skills Development (2016)
Newsletter Gender Equality Network No. 2, 2015: Vocational training and gender
SDC Shareweb Employment and Income
SDC: Gender and Skills Development: A practical tool to mainstream gender equality into skills development projects for better employment opportunities (2006)

Resources and publications on gender in employment and income you can find here.