Older workers in 2008 were significantly less likely to participate in job-related training than their counterparts in the core working-age population.
Overall, younger employees reported receiving more job-related training than their older counterparts. In the year from July 2007 to June 2008, 45% of workers aged 25 to 54 took at least one job-related course or program, compared with 32% of those aged 55 to 64.
This age gap persisted even after certain labour market factors and personal characteristics were taken into account.
Several factors were linked with significantly lower participation in training among older workers. These included lower annual income, low educational attainment, temporary employment and work in blue-collar or service jobs. Workers in the private sector, particularly those in goods-producing industries, were also less likely to take job-related training.
Employer-sponsored training is job-related training paid for or otherwise supported by the employer. Employer-sponsored training data have been consistently collected in surveys dating back to 1991. Over that period, the employer-sponsored training gap between older and core-age workers shrank appreciably.
Between 1991 and 2008, the participation rate in employer-supported training among workers aged 55 to 64 more than doubled from 12% to 28%, while the training rate for workers in the core-age group, those from 25 to 54, increased from 29% to 38%.
In other words, in 1991, core-age workers were about 2.5 times more likely to receive training than older workers. By 2008, this ratio had declined to about 1.4 times more likely.
Almost two-thirds of the increase in the training participation rate of older works was attributable to changes in educational attainment and workplace characteristics. However, this study suggests there was also an increase in training participation among older workers regardless of personal, job or workplace characteristics.
Older employees responding to the 2008 survey were less likely to perceive the presence of barriers to training than their younger counterparts. However, certain barriers related to personal attitudes were more prevalent among older workers than among core-age workers.
For example, among older men, 24% perceived lack of confidence, interest or motivation as important barriers compared with 15% of core-age men.