Dr David Owen comments on the UK monthly unemployment figures
The UK unemployment rate for 16-64 year olds increased very slightly over the last 3 months (November to February compared with August to October 2017), but this was composed of a small fall for men and a slightly larger increase for women. For the West Midlands, the unemployment rate fell very slightly for both men and women over this period, but the fall was larger for men than for women.
In the UK as a whole, the percentage of both men and women in the labour force and the percentage of men and women in work increased slightly. However, in the West Midlands, the percentage in work did not change, but the percentage of men in the workforce fell, slightly more than the fall for women. This suggests that the more favourable trend for the West Midlands may be the result of formerly unemployed people (mainly men) no longer looking for work.
At the local scale, unemployment has been increasing sharply (568 more JSA claims in February 2017 than December 2017 - an increase of 20.6%, but only 25 more than 1 February 2017) in Coventry during 2018 (for both men and women), but has fallen in Birmingham (by 783 or 3.6% and by 2.6 thousand or 11.3% 2017-18). However, the unemployment rate for Coventry is 2 per cent, less than half that for Birmingham (4.1 per cent).
Wales - Spring Statement 2018: austerity continues
Dr Dari Luchynskaja comments on the Office for Budget and Responsibility (OBR) forecasts and the picture that they paint for the economy in the coming years, as well as on the main Spring Statement headlines and any implications for Wales. For more information on her blog read here.
LMI for All: Government careers strategy
An ongoing project, managed from IER since 2012, features in the Government's new Careers Strategy, published December, 2017. This Careers Strategy is part of the government’s plan 'to make Britain fairer, improve social mobility and offer opportunity to everyone'.
The Careers Strategy endorses the importance of 'LMI for All' as an authoritative source of labour market information to support career transitions into and through the labour market:
'The ‘LMI for All’ (Labour Market Information (LMI) for All) website provides one place to access multiple sources of robust LMI. It is being used successfully by developers to create careers apps and websites to help inform people who want information about their careers options. LMI for All data is also used in the job profiles on the National Careers Service website'. (p. 32)
A commitment is also given by Government to support and promote 'LMI for All':
Government has renewed the contract for LMI for All, so that people will continue to have up-to-date information about local labour markets. We will continue to promote the use of the service, and encourage the design of new apps and websites to help people navigate this information.
Blog from Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, Research Programme Director & Associate Fellow at IER.
The numbers of adults participating in formal education is in serious decline in local communities. Adult education maximises engagement, retention and progression for those who might otherwise become lost in the less tailored support offered in Further Education provision. Four key themes need to be urgently addressed by Secretaries of State, Ministers, policy-makers and providers:
• There is a need to promote adult education’s role in healthcare prevention strategies that contribute towards easing demand on acute health services. This needs Ministerial interest and commitment to bring about the necessary policy changes that will put adult education in a sustainable position for the future.
• Greater flexibility and alignment of funding streams can support targeting individuals and groups most in need. Changes to funding since 2010 have squeezed the social infrastructure between adult education, Further Education (FE) and wider community-based organisations. Whilst closer collaborative working is underway to share expertise and services, this remains piecemeal.
• Secretaries of State, Ministers, and those responsible for NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’ (STPs), NHS Improvement, Health and Well-Being Boards, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs), Local/Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) need to have greater access to the evidence of successful policies and practices through adult education. There is a critical need to build upon existing health and well-being surveys to identify any gaps in research, including those that examine whether short, part-time community learning courses help people develop strategies to manage their everyday lives more effectively.
• There are significant benefits to be gained in capturing contextualised adult education, health and wellbeing e.g. the Good Things Foundation and its work with NHS shows health inequalities account for well in excess of £5.5 billion in healthcare costs to the NHS annually. Based on a cost to the NHS of £45 per GP visit, ensuring everyone had the Basic Digital Skills to access health information online would provide savings of £121 million a year by 2025. Other research in the report points to cost benefits and savings. There is significant scope to produce more podcasts/videos of adult education in care homes, healthcare centres, schools, community centres, libraries and workplace settings, to inspire individuals and family learning.
• National and local policies must focus on ratcheting up the demand for adult education provision, particularly from healthcare sectors (and in healthcare contexts).
• Social prescriptions that include ‘prescribing for learning’ should help partnerships to engage with the process of creating a healthy society and focusing on the health and well-being of individuals.
The Social Mobility Commission indicates new divides have opened up in Britain, across geographies, income groups and generations.
Adult education: important for health and well-being
This latest research, commissioned by the Institutes for Adult Learning, aims to increase awareness of the benefits that adult education can bring to the nation's health and well-being. It also aims to stimulate dialogue on how central and devolved government policies and practices can ensure that adult education remains a strategic priority.
So much evidence points to the fact that adult education makes a significant contribution to the health and well-being of individuals and communities. It can be relied upon to assist in addressing national policy challenges such as encouraging and enabling individuals and families to take a more active role in their own health and well-being. However, this added-value contribution is at serious risk of being lost in a policy landscape pre-occupied with apprenticeships, skills and qualification reforms. Devolution presents some real opportunities in local economies to address the skills shortages expected to follow Brexit.
Our evidence points to three key messages:
Six recommendations are outlined in the report. These are aimed at local, regional and national policymakers, educationalists, NHS 'Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships' (STPs), Health and Well-Being Boards, Clinical Commissioning Group (CCGs), Local/Combined Authorities and Local Enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and others working in the Health and Social Care Sector. This report builds upon earlier research 'Adult Education: Too Important To Be Left To Chance' (2016).