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IER newsletter - February 2017

IER Newsletter - February 2017

In this month's issue...

IER's Honorary Professor Paul Edwards

Blog - Working with government

Longitudinal study of learners in vocational education

Developing policy to improve job quality

Growth sectors

Oxford handbook of skills and training

Low skill traps

Making jobs better


IER welcomes Paul Edwards as Honorary Professor

Paul Edwards has been appointed for five years as IER's honorary professor. Paul works at Birmingham Business School and he is a world-class expert in employment studies. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, and has served as the chair of the Academy’s Social Science Group.

How academics can work more effectively with government

The blog by Chris Warhurst starts "I attended a meeting with Sir Mark Walport recently where he said that academics need to work more effectively with government policymakers. The Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER), of which I am Director, does this almost on a daily basis. Working with the Foresight team, we have just produced a number of short reports to help better communicate research to policymakers and academics on the future of skills and skill needs across the life-course, for example. In this respect, IER is an exemplar of how academics can work effectively with government. For over 30 years it has been making a positive impact on policy. This work started in the 1980s, developing what is now called Working Futures - a regularly updated forecast of skills in the UK labour market. This research also now underpins LMI for All, which makes government-held labour market information accessible to the wider public to enable individuals to make informed career decisions. But such engagement is the exception, not the norm. More academics need to work productively with government if we are to help create better informed policy and to keep academic research relevant. To do so, academics need ‘critical proximity’: getting closer to government whilst maintaining independent judgement on what is needed and what works." Read more on the topic here.

Longitudinal study of learners in vocational education

Chris Warhurst was invited to address the annual Ofqual Conference on 28 February. This year’s conference focused on vocational and technical education. Chris spoke about the first findings and policy implications from IER’s new VETrack tracking study of further education students and apprentices funded by the Edge Foundation.

Warhust, C., Yerushalmi, E and Poole, S. (2016) VETrack: Longitudinal Study of Learners in Vocational Education Wave 1 Report. Report for Edge Foundation and City & Guilds. London: Edge Foundation.

Developing policy to improve job quality

With the UK Government signing the G20’s Ankara Declaration committing it to improve job quality in order to reduce inequalities and promote inclusive, sustainable growth, Chris Warhurst outlines how effective policy can be developed to improve job quality in Poverty, the Journal of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Warhurst, C. (2017). Developing effective policy to improve job quality, Poverty, Issue 156.

Growth sectors: Data analysis on employment change, wages and poverty

A study by Anne Green, Neil Lee (LSE) and Paul Sissons (Coventry University) demonstrates that the sector which an individual works in has a significant impact on their pay but that the level of local demand for labour is also important. The report is an output from an ESRC-funded project on Harnessing Growth Sectors for Poverty Reduction. It highlights that low pay is a key feature of the accommodation/food services, residential care, wholesale/retail, and the agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors.
Three of these sectors (accommodation/food services, residential care, wholesale and retail) are likely to have the highest employment demand in the medium term. Hence policies are needed which focus on upgrading skills and developing career in order to help reduce low pay and in-work poverty. Yet local conditions also affect wage growth. It is the aggregate level of local labour demand change, rather than sector-specific employment change, which is most likely to drive wage increases.
It is concluded that sector based policies need to be part of a broader economic framework which considers place specific factors if they are to have an impact on efforts to reduce poverty.

Green A., Lee N. and Sissons P. (2017) Growth Sectors: Data Analysis on Employment Change, Wages and Poverty, Public Policy Institute for Wales, Cardiff.

Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training is published

The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training has just been published by the Oxford University Press. Co-edited by Chris Warhurst, it features sections on: Concepts, Definitions and Measurements of Skill; Education, Training and the Development of Workforce Skills; Skills Demand and Deployment; Skill Outcomes; Differing Skill Systems; and Current Challenges to Policy.

Warhurst, C., Mathew, K., Finegold, D. and Buchanan, J. (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Skills and Training. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780199655366.

Low skill traps - Sectors and geographies

This review essay, authored by Anne Green, was commissioned by the Government Office for Science Foresight team as part of Foresight work on the Future of Skills and Lifelong Learning. It reviews low skills equilibria, potential solutions and suggested policy directions, covering both labour supply and labour demand considerations and skills and non-skills policy domains.

Green, A . (2016). Low skill traps in sectors and geographies: underlying factors and means of escape. London: Foresight, Government Office for Science.

Making jobs better

Co-edited by Chris Warhurst, a special issue of Work & Occupations has just been published on ‘Making Jobs Better’. It examines the different actors involved in trying to improve job quality – firms, governments, trade unions and community organisations.

Findlay, P., Warhurst, C., Keep, E. and Lloyd, C. (2017). Opportunity Knocks? The Possibilities and Levers for Improving Job Quality. Work and Occupations, 44 (1), pp.3-22.

For information on any of IER's publications, research or other activities, please get in touch.
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