Our Ideas Updates

Updated Mar 2016

Jobs & Skills

We believe

Britain should be aiming to achieve full employment

Full employment means a job for everyone who wants one, including people who are often excluded from the labour market today, such as disabled people, young people and mothers of young children.

Recently, the employment rate has been hitting its highest level since records began in 1971, but we believe it could be higher still. As well as supporting economic growth, full employment is vital to ensuring social inclusion and resilience.

In practice, we propose that

an employment rate of around 80 per cent should be targeted, which would put the UK near the top of OECD rankings

Endorsed by chancellor George Osborne, Mar 2014

Full employment brings wider benefits in terms of increased tax revenues and lower benefit spending, which enables more money to be spent on public services like education and health.

Achieving full employment means

we need to identify and support groups of people who are currently struggling to get and keep work

READ MORE: A job for everyone: What should full employment mean in 21st century Britain?

We propose

a job guarantee for people who have been unemployed for more than 12 months

Adopted by Labour, Sep 2011

READ MORE: Jobs for the future: The path back to full employment in the UK

Creating better jobs that work for employers and employees alike requires deep structural reforms in employment, business and skills policy.

We support

flexible working practices, such as job sharing and income smoothing

Flexible working allows more people to balance work with family and other caring commitments, reducing the number who are kept out of the jobs market by these competing demands.

READ MORE: The sandwich generation: Older women balancing work and care

Flexible work, including part-time work, is an important option for some workers, especially parents, and should be fairly paid and secure.

READ MORE: Who's breadwinning? Working mothers and the new face of family support

Paying a fair wage for work provides a just reward to the employee and also reduces overall reliance on benefits and tax credits.

We believe

wages for all workers should reflect gains in productivity

This would mean that workers' incomes could outstrip the cost of living in the medium term.

We believe

all firms that can afford to should pay the living wage to all their workers, whether they are direct employees or contractors

We support creating a series of living wage zones in major towns and cities to encourage local businesses to pay the living wage and raise productivity.

Adopted by Labour, April 2013

READ MORE: Beyond the bottom line: The challenges and opportunities of a living wage

Sharing the benefits and responsibilities of success in the workplace has benefits for both employees and employers.

We support

offering tax breaks to businesses that introduce profit-sharing or employee ownership schemes, so that workers can share in financial success

As well as sharing the financial reward, this kind of 'shared capitalism' can improve productivity by enabling staff to make decisions about how their company works.

READ MORE: Sharing profits and power: Harnessing employee engagement to raise company performance

Pensions provide a vital means of saving for retirement and for many people are an important part of the reward for their work, but the pensions system is currently too confusing and places all of the risk on an individual's shoulders.

We support

collective defined contribution pensions, which share the risks underlying pension investments and so provide greater security for individual savers

Endorsed by pensions minister Steve Webb, Jan 2014

READ MORE: Defining ambitions: Shaping pension reform around public attitudes

The UK faces a critical skills challenge, as the forces of globalisation and technological innovation have changed the face of the modern jobs market.

We believe in

widening access to and participation in higher education, including at our world-leading universities

Changes are required to encourage our elite universities to increase the diversity of their student intakes.

We propose

a student premium for each student enrolled from a group that is under-represented at Britain's top universities

Traditional higher education is expensive, for individual students, their families, and the public purse. Increasing the variety of higher education options would help more people to access higher education to improve their skills and knowledge.

We support

expanding the higher education market to provide more study options that are part-time, based in local areas and focused on vocational requirements

We also support subsidised loans for postgraduate students.

Endorsed by the chancellor, Dec 2014

READ MORE: Reaching higher: Reforming student loans to broaden access to postgraduate study

To help widen the range of options available, we support

bringing back polytechnics as high-quality, local training and education providers

Increasing variety also includes

encouraging the development of high-quality MOOCs (massive online open courses)

Maximising the potential of MOOCs to increase skills for lots of people means expanding their reach beyond traditional higher education subjects into further education and vocational areas.

READ MORE: A critical path: Securing the future of higher education in England

For many people, traditional higher education is not the right option, or not available. Unlike in the university system, there is no clear path provided for these people to make a successful transition from school to work.

Apprenticeships provide valuable on-the-job training and an important transition into work for younger people seeking vocational skills. But they are not well suited to developing older workers looking to climb the career ladder or change jobs.

We propose

apprenticeships should be reserved for young people under the age of 25, should be at level 3, and should last for at least one year

Endorsed by the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats

READ MORE: Remember the young ones: Improving career opportunities for Britain's young people

Too often, training services are not well matched to the demands of the job market, providing an oversupply of some skills and an undersupply of others. This is a waste of valuable resources and human potential. It also fails to support growth in the UK economy, by holding back innovation and productive improvements.

We believe

increasing the involvement of local employers and sector representatives is vital to improving the effectiveness and usefulness of further education and training

We propose

significant powers and funding for skills and active labour market programmes should be devolved to local authorities and their city-region partners

With these new powers and resources they could form partnerships between local skills providers and local businesses to enable new approaches to vocational training, apprenticeships, work experience and lifelong learning.

READ MORE: Northern Skills for National Prosperity

Careers education and guidance can play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition from education to work, but it has been badly neglected.

We propose

every secondary school should appoint a full-time careers officer, to work with students and local employers, and all students should have face-to-face careers interviews with specialist advisers in year 9 and year 11

We support the National Citizen Service, which gives young people a short time away from home and the chance to take part in a team project that will help their community.

We believe

the National Citizen Service should be expanded so that, by 2020, half of all 16 and 17-year-olds are taking part

Endorsed by the prime minister, Oct 2014

READ MORE: The Condition of Britain: Strategies for social renewal

New Skills at Work, IPPR's joint initiative with JPMorgan Chase Foundation, is bringing together and mobilising the best policymakers, business leaders, academics and civil society organisations across Europe to develop new solutions for the workforce challenges of the future. It is publishing a series of reports offering analysis of new data on the labour markets of core European countries, and new research on innovative approaches to employment and skills policies.

READ MORE: New Skills at Work

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