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Harnessing growth sectors for poverty reduction: what works to reduce poverty through sustainable employment with opportunities for progression

Conventionally employment has been seen as a key route out of poverty. However, there are increasing concerns about the prevalence of in-work poverty in the UK; with labour market changes associated with changing working practices (such as the fragmentation of working hours and growth of zero hours contacts) and an increasing polarisation between higher and lower paid jobs.

Since the financial crises there has been a renewed interest in industrial policy in attempts to stimulate economic growth. National and local policymakers have identified a set of 'growth sectors'. This research project seeks to fill a gap in evidence about 'what works' in harnessing growth sectors for poverty reduction.

The project aims to provide a detailed evidence-base for what works in reducing poverty by harnessing employment opportunities in growth sectors. It focuses on transitions into employment, in-work poverty, progression in employment and raising the quality of jobs.

The study has four key elements:

  1. Element I identifies growth sectors and the number and profile of jobs within them. Existing large survey data sets are being utilised to examine how people move between and within growth sectors, and whether and how such moves help people to move out of poverty.
  2. Element II reviews existing national and international evidence on 'what works' in helping people experiencing poverty gain entry to growth sectors and how their employment progression can be facilitated. It also examines evidence on how job quality in growth sectors can be enhanced and identify ‘good practice' examples.
  3. Element III involves in-depth case studies of practical initiatives to harness growth sectors for poverty reduction.
  4. Element IV brings together and test the findings of the research, identifying policy levers that are available for harnessing growth sectors for poverty reduction, and how they might be best used.

The project is funded as part of the ESRC What Works initiative. The What Works in Tackling Poverty programme of research is being led by the Public Policy Institute for Wales.


IER Project Team Members:

Principal Investigator: Anne Green

Project partners:

Paul Sissons, Coventry University

Neil Lee, London School of Economics

Project Duration:

October 2014 - January 2017