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The Work Foundation

Jobs, skills and the route out of poverty

Authors: The Work Foundation Chris Page, Insight and analysis consultant at Working Links

07 February 2011

With the UK unemployment level rising past 2.5 million, Working Links’ latest report into jobs vacancies suggests that it’s the retail, hospitality and care industries that are key to bringing that figure down.

Our Pulse bulletin pulls together official Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures with evidence from our teams across the country who are working with people who are looking for work – giving an overall view of today’s and tomorrow’s employment market.

Officially, the figures show that the biggest rises have been seen in the Transport and Logistics and Finance sectors but our expert evidence suggested that most of the people looking for work – and in the Bottom Ten Million – would be more likely to find work in the retail, hospitality and care sectors.

Of course each region is different but we’re constantly seeing vacancies in those areas. More often than not, employers are looking at hiring candidates who have soft skills – those who are reliable, flexible and who have a good work ethic – rather than reams of qualifications.

Sustained work is the best route out of poverty and the aim of providers like us must be to help people move away from welfare dependency – benefits should not be seen as a long term option for those that can work, but merely a transitional measure. Even once people have found a long term job however, many will still face in work poverty issues. It is important for a successful economy to provide not only a route into employment, but also a way of helping people continue to develop their skills and progress in the work place. The Bottom Ten Million research programme is already starting to give great insights into the UK economy’s future development for those people who are both unemployed and in low paid jobs.

We strive to tackle poverty of aspiration by working with people to motivate and increase self esteem, and change often deep - rooted mindsets about dependency. And it’s extremely important organisations don’t work alone to help people who are out of work. A great deal can be learnt from charities and voluntary organisations who work in the heart of communities to understand people’s aspirations and concerns.

The Work Foundation’s ongoing The Bottom Ten Million takes an in-depth look into the employment prospects of Britain’s low earners between now and 2020 and Working Links is proud to play a role in the programme.

Chris Page is an Insight and analysis consultant at Working Links.