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IER Newsletter August-September 2023

IER Newsletter - August-September 2023
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The future of flexible working

Despite ESRC funding having ended, ReWAGELink opens in a new window continues to publish legacy policy briefs and evidence papers. The latest paper focuses on the future of flexible working, covering both flexible hours and places of work.

It was led by Professor Jill Rubery from Manchester University with other contributors from Professor Alan Felstead and Dr Helen Blakely of Cardiff University and Dr Emily EricksonLink opens in a new window of IER. It was funded by Deloitte, and was presented to UK Government departments in early August. A further presentation in mid-August to these departments focused on good work, about which other ReWAGE evidence papers will be published in the autumn. The future of flexible working paper can be found on the ReWAGE websiteLink opens in a new window.

New research on green and hydrogen jobs in the Midlands

A report produced by a team of IER researchers led by Jeisson Cardenas RubioLink opens in a new window with Jamelia Harris, Chris Warhurst, Rosie Day and Luke Bosworth presents findings from an analysis of green and hydrogen jobs in the Midlands. The study utilised data from the Labour Force Survey and IER database of online job vacancy postings.

It distinguished three types of green jobs – New and Emerging Occupations or pure green jobs which are completely novel, Enhanced Skills and Knowledge Occupations which capture changing worker requirements in some existing jobs, and Increased Demand Occupations which result when green economy activities increase employment demand for some existing occupations. Hydrogen jobs were empirically mapped using online vacancy data which gave an indication of roles demanded in the hydrogen industry. New and Emerging green employment and job vacancies have been increasing, indicating a movement towards a greener economy. The data showed that green economic activities and technologies have been changing the requirements of workers in existing occupations and have increased demand for some existing occupations.

The research was commissioned by the Midlands Engine and HyDEX. The report is available hereLink opens in a new window.

Cardenas Rubio, J., Harris, J., Warhurst, C., Day, R., & Bosworth, L. (2023). Green and Hydrogen Jobs in the Midlands. Nottingham: Midlands Engine.

Putting the human in ESG

In September, IER and ReWAGELink opens in a new window experts worked on a consultation submission for Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service). The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB), established in 2021 at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, encourages environmental, social and governance (ESG) capital investment criteria.

Led by Dr Emily EricksonLink opens in a new window, the team of Professor Chris Warhurst Link opens in a new windowand Dr Katharina Sarter Link opens in a new windowof IER and Professor Chris Forde of Leeds University examined the case for developing ‘human capital’ standards as part of the consultation on the ‘social’ in ESG.

New publication on survey research methods

Dr Jamelia HarrisLink opens in a new window has published a new article in the journal Field Methods. The article discusses how to estimate the size of the target population in data limited settings when conducting survey research.

Not knowing the population size is a common problem in data-limited contexts. Drawing on labour market research in Sierra Leone, the article outlines a four-step solution to this problem: (1) estimate the population size using expert interviews; (2) verify estimates using interviews with participants sampled; (3) triangulate using secondary data; and (4) reconfirm using focus group discussions.

Harris, J. (2023). Estimating the Size of the Target Population in Data Limited SettingsLink opens in a new window. Field Methods.

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New publication on capacity building in Africa

In a recent article published in World Development Perspectives, IER's Dr Jamelia HarrisLink opens in a new window and co-author Andrew Lawson assess the application of the problem driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) approach to public financial management reform in six African countries. The article draws on primary data collected using a mix of interviews, overt participation observations and a short survey.

PDIA responds to shortcomings in orthodox approaches to reform and technical assistance in developing countries. It stresses local solutions to local problems, achieved through experimentation and adaptation. The principles of PDIA are appealing, but its empirical assessment is in its infancy. This study aims to fill part of this gap. Findings show that PDIA delivers results in the short-term, particularly in cases where there is an influential authorising agent and dedicated team. Progress was less forthcoming for reforms that required high level political buy-in from senior officials. The approach does exceptionally well to develop staff capability, transferable skills, and local empowerment to solve local problems, thus potentially benefitting future reforms.

Lawson, A. & Harris, J. (2023). Is the problem driven iterative adaptation approach (PDIA) a panacea for public financial management reform? Evidence from six African countriesLink opens in a new window. World Development Perspectives.

IER welcomes Professor Philip Taylor

PhilipLink opens in a new window joined IER this September. A psychologist and social gerontologist by background Philip uses mixed methods to understand issues of workforce ageing.

Philip’s research focuses on developments in public policies targeting longer working lives, older workers' orientations to work and retirement and employer attitudes and practices towards older workers, in an international context. He has a background in international education, research, and policy advice, with extensive high-level corporate and government engagement. He previously worked at various universities in the UK and Australia (Cambridge, Monash, Open University, Sheffield, among others).

Presentation at the RSS Annual Conference

Gianni Anelli LopezLink opens in a new window, PhD student at IER, gave a talk at the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) Annual Conference in Harrogate in early September.

Gianni's talk was on 'Extracting skills in online job advertisements: using Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools on labour skills assessment'. Starting with a presentation on how to build a skills extractor, he shared the results of the extractor for the Chilean labour market, emphasising that the methodology is applicable to different countries and languages. The methodology was positively received and the ensuing discussion focused on the applicability of the method for fine tuning Large Language Models.

Following this, Gianni was invited to give a similar talk to students enrolled in the MSc Business Data Analytics at Bangor University in October 2023.

Event on public services with Evan Davis

On 22nd September, IER hosted an event with Evan Davis on public services in a changing world today to celebrate the recent publication of "Understanding Public Services. A Contemporary IntroductionLink opens in a new window".

The book was edited by IER's Dr Katharina SarterLink opens in a new window and Dr Elizabeth Cookingham from the University of York. During this online event, Evan Davis, Dr Sarter and Dr Cookingham Bailey discussed the challenges and opportunities facing public services.

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