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IER research informs the new British Academy report on the skills of graduates of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS)

BA_the right skills report cover

The British Academy has launched its new report on the skills of AHSS graduates.

IER was commissioned by the British Academy to conduct mixed-methods research to identify AHSS graduates’ and employers’ perceptions of their skills, the benefits of AHSS graduates to the economy and to society and the need for any further skills development. The research, involving a comprehensive review of existing literature, analysis of 3 different quantitative data sources, focus groups with 22 graduates and postgraduates, and interviews with 6 employers, found that graduates with more creative approaches to work will be highly valued in the future and, if AHSS graduates can combine their creativity with good technical skills, they will be highly sought after. Those with narrow skill sets are more likely to struggle in the labour market, except in niche areas where there may be a shortage of particular skills. The research was led by Dr Clare Lyonette, with Dr Wil Hunt and Beate Baldauf, and the IER report has been published on the British Academy website.

Tue 12 December 2017, 10:50 | Tags: Socialsciences, higher education, graduates, employment, skills

Creating Decent Work in Scotland

Money_5 pound and coins

In-work poverty is a major socio-economic problem. In 2013, 52% of working age adults and 59% of children in Scotland were living in households where at least someone was in work. Almost a fifth of the workforce was paid below the living wage; of which 64% were women. Underemployment and job security are also issues: in 2014 around 180,000 workers in Scotland were underemployed and 120,000 on zero-hour contracts. In 2015, the Scottish Parliament launched an Inquiry into Work, Wellbeing and Wages.

This project was a response to these problems. It involved applying IER’s existing expertise in job quality to the creation of a set of measures of Decent Work for Oxfam, one of the world’s leading charities. The aim of the project was to inform public debate and political party thinking ahead of the Scottish elections in May 2016 by proposing a decent work agenda for Scotland. Thereafter, the project hoped to encourage the explicit adoption of the decent work agenda by the Scottish Government post May 2016. Led by Oxfam, the project was co-branded with IER and the University of the West of Scotland. Chris Warhurst and Sally Wright were involved from IER. Their participation was enabled by funding from Warwick’s ESRC Impact Accelerator Account.

The project wanted to provide low wage workers with a voice about what mattered to them and so used mixed participatory research methods to ask people about their priorities, concerns and ambitions about what they needed to live well. Data was gathered from across Scotland through focus groups, semi-structured interviews, street stalls and a YouGov online opinion poll. From this data Sally Wright developed a set of weighted rankings for decent work. Even before publication of its findings, the project attracted interest and support from the Scottish Parliament. The Inquiry into Work, Wages and Wellbeing reported in early 2016; after hearing evidence from the project, it wanted the Scottish Government-established Fair Work Commission to ‘consider carefully the findings of Oxfam‘s work’ in its deliberations. Evidence was submitted to this Commission as well as the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee.

The report from the project – What makes for decent work? A study with low paid workers in Scotland – was published later in 2016 and was co-authored by Sally Wright. It was launched in the Scottish Parliament with the Scottish Cabinet Secretary in attendance. Throughout 2016 the project gained considerable social media, newspaper and radio attention in Scotland and was cited by the Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, during committee debate about the work, wages and wellbeing report as well as by John Finnie MSP during a debate in the main parliamentary chamber about the living wage and Scottish football clubs. Its impact is on-going and is monitored by Oxfam.

Tue 28 November 2017, 18:17 | Tags: decent work, Research

UK Employment Policy in a Changing Europe - Warwick Brexit Briefings on Employment

EU Commission

A series of research-based policy briefings, organized by the University of Warwick and its Connecting Research on Employment and Work (CREW) network, will take place over four consecutive weeks in November and early December 2017 in London.

Experts from the Warwick Institute for Employment Research, Warwick Law School and Warwick Business School's Industrial Relations Research Unit evaluate the employment policy, rights, skills and labour market implications of the UK's withdrawal from the EU and make research-based recommendations for future development of policy in these areas, as the UK leaves the EU.

Next dates for the briefing, which will be held at Central Hall, Maurice Barnett room, Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH from 12:30-1:30, with lunch available from 12:00:

If you would like to RSVP to any of the events, please contact Lynne Marston:

Tue 12 December 2017, 13:03 | Tags: policy, Europe, worklessness, migration, skills

Job quality research for the CIPD

Analysing jobs

In 2017, as part of its programme of work promoting better working lives, the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) commissioned IER to produce two reports on job quality. The first report focused on Understanding and Measuring Job Quality; the second on Indicators of Job Quality. The IER team was led by Professor Chris Warhurst and comprised Sally Wright, Dr Clare Lyonette and, for the second report, Dr Sudipa Sarkar. Both reports were published by the CIPD. The research was used by the CIPD in its consultation submission to the 2017 UK Government’s Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. The research also helped inform the development of a new UK Working Lives survey for the CIPD. Subsequent to the completion of the research, Dr Sarkar was seconded to the CIPD to assist with the development of the new survey, which was administered by YouGov over winter 2017-18.

Tue 28 November 2017, 12:00 | Tags: Research, Expertise

Engaging employers in building better quality jobs


This conference organised jointly by the OECD, Warwick IER, the Work Foundation, and the Centre for Cities will bring together stakeholders from national government departments, cities, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) as well as business, NGOs and research institutions to discuss the key challenges facing the United Kingdom in building more and better quality jobs. The conference will focus on discussing the key challenges and opportunities from Brexit and sharing local solutions as well as international lessons from OECD countries on how effective skills policies can foster productivity and inclusive growth. Register for the conference at The Shard on Thursday 2 November 2017.

Fri 10 November 2017, 12:45 | Tags: policy, decent work, skills

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