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The Progressive Policy Think Tank

More than a foot in the door: Job sustainability and advancement in London and the UK

Job sustainability and advancement have taken on greater prominence in policy debates, because payments linked to job sustainability are embedded in the government's flagship welfare-to-work programme.

The labour market has changed dramatically since the 1980s. A more flexible labour market, with high numbers of part-time and temporary jobs, has made entry into work easier. But is there a price for this flexibility? The impact of labour market reforms present real trade-offs, but increased job security need not be at the expense of flexibility.

But the policy agenda gives little attention to the quality of jobs people move into or whether workers have opportunities to progress from entry-level jobs to jobs with more pay and better working conditions. The skills system is poorly coordinated with employment support, and there are no incentives built into the Work Programme to encourage providers to support people not only to stay in work but also to advance.

In this paper, we extend our recommendations on welfare-to-work to consider job sustainability and advancement. We argue that the support offered by welfare-to-work providers to help people to stay in work and progress should be more innovative, including active engagement with employers to improve the quality of jobs available and the creation of specific training routes into jobs or sectors. We argue that providing support for people to move into jobs with higher pay and better working conditions, either at the same firm or a different one, will help to improve sustainability in work.