Helping low paid workers progress

Five million adults are in low paid work, some one million more than the OECD average. And three in four people in low paid work ten years ago are still low paid today. This limits people’s living standards and drives in-work poverty. It is a consequence of the UK’s relatively low productivity: our output per hour is 31% lower than in the US.

Low pay and in-work poverty vary significantly across the country. Looking at average pay alone, there is a significant difference between London, where average weekly pay is £711, and the North East (£499 p/w), although that itself masks significant inequality within regions. Raising productivity and increasing progression will boost the local economy, increase social mobility and reduce in-work poverty.

Our devolution ask

Cities and local areas should work with colleges and providers to trial a Career Advancement Service using their devolved skills budget.

This would involve providing a Career Coach and wraparound support for learners, helping them to convert their learning into greater earning. In practice, this could involve including earnings progression as a key measure in outcome agreements, and designing structured pilots with employers and providers.

How we can help

We can support cities and local areas in researching the factors that drive progression, designing and commissioning trials of new approaches to increase progression, and evaluating pilots and programmes.

Both NIACE and Inclusion, who we will we merge with in January 2016, have undertaken a range of research into labour market progression and supported a range of projects aimed at boosting progression. Inclusion published research into labour market progression in London in October 2013, and NIACE published proposals for a Career Advancement Service in the first of our Policy Solution series, No Limits, in February 2015.

We are now establishing a network of the main projects focused on improving progression for low paid workers across the UK. This will help to share best practice and new approaches. Inclusion is evaluating Step Up, a joint Trust for London and Walcott Foundation project trialing ways of boosting progression in South London.

For more information please contact Stephen Evans