JRF - More jobs, better jobs needed in economic recovery

10 Feb 2014 11:54 AM

A new initiative launched recently (Friday 7 February) highlights the need for an economic recovery that ensures everyone benefits from economic growth. 

The More jobs, better jobs partnership between Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Leeds city region will work to secure a fair recovery for all. The initiative will bring together local employers, local authorities and local and regional politicians and other leaders to design and deliver new policy initiatives and approaches so that growth is felt by everyone in the region.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation supports the cities agenda, which we believe has an important strategic role to play if we are to develop the skills that lead to greater access to jobs. This partnership aims to influence the national agenda on skills and creating more and better jobs. 

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for leisure and skills said:

“We are looking forward to working with the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on initiatives to bring local employers together with politicians to design and deliver new initiatives around creating jobs in the city region.

“One of the key priorities for the council is to develop skills further and ensure that this leads to greater access to jobs – we want the full cycle to be achieved, not just offering people new skills. It is therefore about offering support to people to enable them to reach their full potential.”

To support this partnership, JRF has published two new reports. 

Cities, growth and poverty: evidence review, by a team at the Work Foundation, the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, and the London School of Economics, finds that economic growth does not automatically lead to poverty reduction. The quality and quantity of new jobs created is the most important factor in decreasing poverty in cities. Increases in output and productivity have little effect on poverty reduction. 

Emphasis needs to be placed on creating new jobs for young people and people with low and intermediate skills levels. The report finds that the quality of jobs created is as important as the quantity – especially for people in low-paid, low-skilled work.  Progression within the workplace is one of the key routes out of poverty. Recent JRF research found that most people in poverty lived in a household where someone worked. 

However, such quality jobs are currently in short supply. Also published today by JRF is Future of the UK labour market which finds that the UK has a large number of low-paid, low-skilled jobs compared to other developed countries. The cities regional agenda is found to have a significant role to play in linking skills strategies with economic development. 

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: “Of course we welcome the news that the economy is in recovery. We know from past experience that there is no guarantee that all citizens will benefit from growth in their local economy, and we cannot be complacent about the impact of the economic recovery for people in poverty. We want to change that. A recovery that leaves poorer people and places behind is no real recovery.”

The Future labour market report describes the growing problem of in-work poverty as an “inconvenient truth” for politicians. However, better pay is not the only labour market intervention that matters. Improved terms and conditions, job security and progression in work must also be addressed for work to act as a more reliable route out of poverty. ‘Bad’ jobs, that do not fulfil these criteria, prevent paid work acting as a route out of poverty.

The report also identifies the groups most at risk of low pay; this includes young people, those with low or no qualifications and those living outside of London. The groups most at risk of moving between low pay and no pay are lone parents, disabled people and BME groups, whereas those most at risk of getting stuck in low pay include women and people working in unskilled manual jobs.

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