No Limits: better support needed for Britain’s low-paid workers

11 February 2015

Britain’s 5 million low paid workers deserve better support to boost their careers so they don’t become trapped in low pay, a new report finds. Today, NIACE launches ground-breaking proposals for a new National Advancement Service to help people, especially those earning ‘below the living wage’, boost their earnings and career prospects.

Living standards are set to be a key battleground for May’s General Election. Debate has focused on how to increase the National Minimum Wage and help people get on the housing ladder. But less attention has been focused on how to help people climb the career ladder.

NIACE believes a National Advancement Service could bridge this gap, helping 500,000 families by 2020 and cutting child poverty by 150,000. It would offer:

  • a service open to everyone in low paid work in receipt of tax credits or Universal Credit;
  • a free Career Check and online support, alongside personalised support from a Career Coach and Personal Career Account;
  • work with employers to boost their business and create more opportunities for people to progress;
  • a localised service managed by Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and cities; and
  • a cost neutral service – funded by refocusing £100m of existing budgets from the National Careers Service and Adult Skills Budget.

Stephen Evans, Deputy Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“The economy is growing and employment is rising, but for too many people living standards remain stalled.  By 2020 those on low to middle incomes are expected to still be worse off than they were pre-recession.

“Our employment and skills system has too little to offer Britain’s 5 million low paid workers. Support is targeted on the young, those with the fewest qualifications and those out of work. This leaves a ‘missing middle’ of people who have done the right thing by working, but find no-one on their side when they want to get on.

“A National Advancement Service would support aspiration by providing people in low paid work support to achieve their ambitions and boost their earnings. Helping people get on the careers ladder should be every bit as important as help to get on the housing ladder.”