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Explaining the class gap in training: the role of employment relations and job characteristics

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Existing studies consistently find a gap in further education between high- and low-skilled workers, implying a gap in formal training between high- and low-skilled classes. In this paper, we hypothesize that the most important reasons for differences between social classes in further education participation are grounded in job characteristics rather than worker characteristics. This is in line with theoretical foundations of the construction of the widely used Erikson-Goldthorpe-Portocarero (EGP) class scheme and related classifications, such as the new European Socio-Economic Classification (ESeC) scheme that we apply in our analyses. We explore the importance of different job characteristics for the explanation of the class gap with a dataset providing detailed information about the jobs of more than 20,000 German employees. The tasks performed and the technologies used in the job are found to be of particular importance. Both are able to explain much of the variation in training activity between different class positions and different educational levels. We discuss the implications of our results for social inequality. Our conclusion is that much of the variation of training incidents between classes comes from the very simple fact that they carry out different jobs. This should always be taken into account when inequality in training between individuals is examined.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mannheim Centre for European Social Research (MZES), University of Mannheim, Germany

Publication date: 01 March 2011

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