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IER newsletter Summer 2017

IER Newsletter - July-August 2017

Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices cites IER project as key influence

In the context of the emerging gig economy, the recently published UK Government’s Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices seeks to promote employment that is fair and decent. In shaping its analysis, the Review adopted the model of job quality developed by IER and its Euro-partners as part of QuInnE. QuInnE is a EU Horizon 2020 funded project that examines the relationship between innovation, job quality and employment outcomes due for completion in 2018. Further details of QuInnE, please contact Chris Warhurst.

Warhurst, C, Mathieu, C. and Wright, S. (2017) ‘Workplace Innovation and the Quality of Working LIfe in an Age of Uberisation’ in P. Oeij, F. Pot and D. Rus (eds) Workplace Innovation: Theory, Research and Practice, Berlin: Springer.

Impacts of the Apprenticeship Levy

The Apprenticeship Levy is perhaps the most significant change in vocational education and training (VET) funding in a generation. IER with IFF Research were commissioned by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) to undertake research on the impact of the Levy. The findings were presented at AELP’s annual conference on 23rd June and are available from their website. The study included telephone interviews with 200 employers who had taken on an apprentice in the past 12 months. The main conclusions from the study are that:
  • 90 per cent of employers have heard of the levy but a quarter of them do not know how much they will pay;
  • in the short term the number of apprenticesips is expected to decrease by 17 per cent;
  • in the medium term Levy payers are likely to increase recruitment, driven by the need to spend the Levy, but there are concerns that smaller organisations and non-levy payers will reduce apprenticeship recruitment.

Dickinson, P., Kispeter, E., Poole, S. (2017). Impacts of the Apprenticeship Levy. Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

The Gig Economy – past and present

IER's Noel Whiteside, a member of the research team currently undertaking a comprehensive investigation of precarious employment with particular reference to opportunities for young people, has just published a policy paper drawing on lessons from the past. The Taylor Review, published in July, assumes the gig economy is novel. This is far from the case. IT platforms offer a new mode of job management. But over a century ago, irregular work and incomes were acknowledged to be a principal cause of poverty and social dependency, a source of economic inefficiency,a harbinger of poor health and lost working capacity. This perspective explains why permanent work contracts spread in ensuing decades. Today, such job security for young people is rare as we go back to a future of casual work. Her article, 'Flexible employment and casual labour: a historical perspective on labour market policy', is available via History & Policy. Professor Whiteside can be contacted by email at or by phone on 07974431577.

Public sector austerity and the changing discourse of work-life balance

IER's Clare Lyonette has had a co-authored article published in the journal Work, Employment and Society on the shifting discourses of work-life balance (WLB) in the context of austerity. Three main discourses were identified:
WLB practices as organizationally embedded amid financial pressures; WLB practices as a strategy for managing financial pressures; and WLB as a personal responsibility.
Despite a discourse of mutual benefits to employee and employer underpinning all three discourses, there is a distinct shift towards greater emphasis on economic rather than institutional interests of employers during austerity, accompanied by discursive processes of fixing, stretching, shrinking and bending understandings of WLB. The reconstructed meaning of WLB raises concerns about its continued relevance to its original espoused purpose.

Lewis, S., Anderson, D., Lyonette, C., Payne, N. and Wood, S. (2017) ‘Public sector austerity cuts in the UK and the changing discourse of work-life balance.’ Work, Employment and Society, 31 (4): 586-604.

Other publications

Cárdenas, J., Gutiérrez, L. H., & Otero, J. (2017). Investigating diesel market integration in France: Evidence from micro data. Energy Economics, 63, 314-321. The article is available online on Science Direct.

New projects

The changing pattern of early graduate careers, seven years on: a comparison of the early career trajectories and outcomes of 1995 and 2009/10 UK graduates, Nuffield Foundation

Skills demand workshop, Department for Education

Find more information on IER's current projects.