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Industrie 4.0 Policy brief published

Beyond 4.0 is a Horizon 2020 project examining the future of work and welfare in Europe.

Chris Warhurst of IER and Steve Dhondt of the Dutch innovation organisation TNO have just published a Policy brief outlining the opportunities and challenges with Industrie 4.0 as part of the project.

Mon 06 Jul 2020, 21:21 | Tags: industrie 4.0

Skills and transformation of the EU Automotive sector

Terence Hogarth (as part of the FGB/EY team investigating skill needs in the automotive sector for the European Commission) moderated the 'Skills and Transformation of the EU Automotive Sector' webinar held on 27th May 2020.

The webinar was convened on behalf of the European Commission to report on its sector blueprint studies looking at the automotive sector’s skill needs and how they might be met. The webinar will be followed by a high level conference, planned for 23 September 2020, to explore the sector’s skill needs in greater depth.

Mon 06 Jul 2020, 21:15 | Tags: skills, automotive sector

The shape of employment to come

In June, Chris Warhurst contributed to Warwick’s new Global Research Priorities (GRP) group’s debate on Productivity and the Futures of Work with a webinar on ‘The shape of employment to come’. It includes a 7-point plan for employment in a new UK industrial strategy.

GRPs are interdisciplinary research groupings intended to respond to complex multi-faceted global problems through collaborative research excellence.

The recorded presentation can be found here and a blog post on this topic here.

Wed 01 Jul 2020, 17:17 | Tags: employment, future of work, productivity

A tale of two job vacancies: waitering and nursing - blog by Jeisson Cardenas Rubio, Chris Warhurst and Sally-Anne Barnes

New labour market data released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the small rise in unemployment recorded in May has held. Unemployment has not yet risen because of the furloughing scheme. However, the collapse in job vacancies is being taken as a marker of the massive unemployment to come. The aggregate vacancy data masks some significant variations by occupation. Experimental data analysis by the Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER) reveals falling and increasing demand for different jobs in the UK labour market.

 ONS data show falling overall vacancy figures

Data from the ONS in May showed a precipitous drop in job vacancies. Compared to previous quarterly data there was a drop of 170,000 or over 20% in job vacancies in the UK. This drop continues in the new data. It reveals that the drop in advertised job vacancies is the largest quarterly fall on record. From March to May this year, 340,00 fewer jobs were advertised than in the previous quarter. The number of vacancies might now even be a record low.

The ONS data reveals that the retail and hospitality sectors are a particular problem. However, the headline data masks significant variations by occupation. Understanding which jobs are less available and which, if any, offer opportunities is important for people facing unemployment or about to leave school, college or university this summer.

Piloting a new online job-scraping tool

As part of extending the data available in its labour market information project – LMI for All – the team at IER is currently piloting a new web scraping technique to collect UK vacancy data. LMI for All brings together different sources of labour market data to support careers advice. It is used by government, careers organisations and schools across the UK and is increasingly influential internationally. The team’s current task is to develop a method to apply the constant stream of updated vacancies to the UK occupational classification system. This data will enable the creation of trend data to analyse real-time labour demand in the UK. Web scraping consists of a computerised method to automatically collect information from across the Internet (e.g. job portals). For the LMI for All pilot, the vacancy information was scraped daily from two of the significant job portals in the UK: The Guardian and Reed, and from February 2019 to date. These two job portals are significant because they receive a high number of visits per day and include lots of information about the jobs being advertised.

Steep fall in vacancies for waiters/waitresses

The data shows some very bad news for some occupations. The obvious example is waitering jobs. Vacancies for these jobs have collapsed during the Covid-19 crisis, as we show below Graph 1 indicates the number of job vacancies posted online (y axis) from February 2019 to April 2020 (x axis).

Graph 1: Trends in job vacancies for waiters/waitresses in the UK

Graph 1: Trends in job vacancies for waiters/waitresses in the UK

Source: authors’ own data

This stark decline in vacancies for waitering jobs is not a surprise. The hospitality industry has been mothballed during the Covid-19 crisis, with restaurants and hotels closed for business. It is likely that full reopening will be difficult for companies in this industry. Restaurant and hotels will likely operate below capacity. Unfortunately, furloughing just hides looming unemployment for many workers in this industry. Indicatively, the Restaurant Group, which owns Italian American style restaurant chain Frankie and Benny's, announced the closure of 125 restaurants in June with up to 300 job losses. More similar announcements are likely.

In the UK context, these jobs tend to have low job quality as indicated by pay (not untypically minimum wage) and formal skill levels. They can be good jobs, however, in terms of providing people with entry routes into work and for students needing to pay their way through study. They have a socially useful function therefore beyond helping feed customers.

Increased demand for nurses

There is some good news. Other jobs show a step rise in job vacancies. The obvious example is nursing. Not surprisingly given the health crisis, nurses are in big demand, with a steep rise recently in the number of job vacancies, as we show below. Graph 2 indicates the number of job vacancies posted online (y axis) from February 2019 to April 2020 (x axis).

Graph 2: Trends in job vacancies for nurses in the UK

Graph 2: Trends in job vacancies for nurses in the UK

Source: authors’ own data

Nursing jobs tend to be good jobs – at least as measured by skill level. Many also offer career progression even if there are inequities in pay. The problem is that even before the Covid-19 crisis, the UK’s health service was struggling to fill its nursing vacancies. This problem is global. Worldwide there is a shortage of six million nurses. A further one million nurses are needed in Europe alone. In the UK, the Government urgently needs to rethink its workforce planning and delivery for nurses if the country’s shortfall is to be addressed. Given the likely global labour market competition for new nurses, one option would be to focus on retaining older existing nurses. Currently, too many leave the NHS from the age of 50. Understanding why they leave and what would make them stay is now imperative.

Knowing where the jobs are and aren’t will be important

More broadly, this vacancy data shows that the shape of the UK workforce is likely to change, at least in the short-term. The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on jobs will not be even. The stock, or volume, of some jobs will decline, others will increase. To capture these changes, IER is creating a dataset that provides key insights into the UK labour market. In real time, we will be able to analyse demand for particular occupations and the skills needed within these occupations. As the UK economy contracts over the year, identifying where the job opportunities exist will be vital, not just for career advisers and those working in job centres but also for the unemployed as they retrain or new entrants as they come on to the labour market looking for jobs.

Tue 16 Jun 2020, 15:52 | Tags: labour market information, vacancy

Towards a national database of the informal sector: pandemic response and future recommendations for Indonesia - Blog by Joanna Octavia

After only a few months, the global Coronavirus pandemic has affected workers worldwide in a profound way. Strict social distancing and lockdown measures around the world have halted daily activities, presenting a threat to the livelihoods of billions of workers who rely on their daily earnings in the informal sector.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that almost 1.6 billion informal workers or nearly half of the global workforce are significantly affected by pandemic measures.

In Indonesia, 55% of the workforce or around 70 million people work in the informal sector. Unregistered, unregulated and unprotected by secure employment contracts and social safety nets, informal workers are some of the most vulnerable in the labour market.

Who are the informal workers in Indonesia and what support is available to them?

Informal workers in Indonesia are spread across sectors and occupations, including but not limited to construction, street vending, domestic work, and motorcycle taxi driving. Following the pandemic outbreak, a majority of these workers are at risk of losing their livelihoods as a result of their insecure working conditions. GARDA, an Indonesian organisation for online motorcycle taxi drivers, noted that their incomes have fallen by 80% due to the pandemic.

Furthermore, salaried informal workers such as domestic workers and those employed “off the books” by businesses face the possibility of being asked to stop coming to work with the risk of receiving no compensation for their termination. Different to formal sector workers, informal working arrangements are not subject to the national labour legislation, social protection, or entitlement to certain employment benefits, such as advance notice of dismissal and severance pay.

Whilst the Indonesian Government has deployed a range of social assistance benefits to help Indonesians weather through the crisis, informal workers are lumped together with the poor and very poor. However, many informal workers earned just enough before the pandemic and will not be able to benefit from assistance programmes that target households with little to no earning potential. Some informal workers also own assets, which may exclude them from social assistance for the poor and very poor.

Moreover, studies on informality in Indonesia suggest that a large proportion of those working in the urban informal sector are economic migrants. One repercussion of always constantly being on the move is the possibility of not being documented by the local administrative office, which maintains the data of potential assistance beneficiaries within their locality.

The limited information we have on the informal sector has resulted in a plethora of problems during this pandemic, in particular when addressing questions such as: (1) who are the informal workers?, (2) where do they work?, and lastly (3) how do we reach them in a way that is more systematic and effective?

What needs to be done in the short-term?

In the short term, the government must track and measure how vulnerable groups of workers are being impacted. This means taking active steps to cross-check data between agencies, offices and initiatives to develop a national database of informal workers. The data collected should include not only identification details, work history and financial conditions but they should also contain information on occupation and working arrangement.

  • Targeted support measures: The data could be used to design and implement support measures tailored to the conditions of informal workers. In addition to the assistance offered by government, donations from individuals or civil society groups could then be effectively allocated and distributed to them if such data is made available.

  • Redeployment into in-demand roles: Another way that the data can be used is to redeploy informal workers. While some industries are disrupted as a result of the pandemic, some, such as medical services, ecommerce and logistics, are growing. There is opportunity to retrain workers of all levels for the available jobs or reskill them to meet evolving market needs. Both the government and private sector, including social enterprises, should engage grassroot organisations to explore these possibilities.

 What can be done in the longer term to support informal workers?

street vendorIn the longer term, the pandemic highlights the urgent need for government to protect those operating and working in the informal sector through regulatory change. Workers may choose to stay informal for many reasons but the persistence of the sector indicates that it should not be considered as a stopgap measure.

  • State recognition: The governing Law on Manpower No. 13 of 2003 does not recognise informal workers, including own-account workers and workers without formal working arrangements, specifying workers as only those who possess a formal working relationship with an employer.

Furthermore, to ensure that the Law on Manpower is extended to all workers, there needs to be a recognition of the different types of informal workers by their working arrangements or employment relationship in order to clarify the obligations that each stakeholder has towards the worker in the law.

  • Consideration of new forms of work: Regulations that correspond to the changing landscape of employment relations in Indonesia should be considered. The role of digital platforms as a mediator between customers and own-account workers extends beyond the relationship between employers and workers as defined in the Law on Manpower.

tuktukGiven that workers attach different levels of importance to the work that they do in the informal sector, and that informal work is experienced differently across platforms, it is imperative that the government designs supporting regulations that would not only protect workers but also provide business certainty for the customers and respect the flexibility enabled by some platforms.

  • Cohesive workforce development map: Lastly, it should be remembered that the urban informal sector in Indonesia does not exist in a vacuum. Other factors, including efforts to upskill and reskill, jobs mismatch, digital divide and poor infrastructure in other parts of the country, need to also be taken into account when designing a workforce development roadmap.

Governments at both the national and regional levels should consider growing economic centres outside of Indonesia’s large cities and explore other growth opportunities to narrow the regional divide.

Joanna is also a Visiting Fellow at CSIS (Centre for Strategic and International Studies)Indonesia. The original commentary is downloadable from the CSIS website here.

Wed 10 Jun 2020, 16:05 | Tags: Covid-19, international

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