Before the pandemic, the proportion of people in work in Wales had steadily improved but in-work poverty has also risen. The coronavirus pandemic has created the immediate challenge of rising unemployment, but longer-term problems of low pay and insecure work have been exacerbated. Evidence suggests that too many workers are getting stuck or continuously moving in and out of low pay, rather than being able to move on to higher paid jobs.
The UK’s employment system helps most people back to work quickly when they lose their jobs, and the learning and skills system supports a range of important learning. However, the employment system is focused primarily on job entry and sustainability, and the skills system primarily on young people and those with fewer qualifications.
This leaves many in low paid work with insufficient support to get on or change careers, a growing challenge in an era of lengthening working lives and ongoing changes in the world of work.
Our work focuses on building understanding of how we can improve the quality of work and support people to progress in work. We do this through analysis, evaluation and sharing best practice.
Learning and Work calls for everyone to have access to a Personal Learning Account, giving them a funded entitlement to spend on any approved learning, a record of their achievement, and access to advice and guidance to help them make informed choices.
Learning is central to a fair and prosperous society. The links between learning throughout life and national prosperity, business success, societal cohesion, and individual opportunity and life chances are clear and well established. Learning helps you earn more, live healthier and play a fuller role in society.
It is equally well established that the UK’s skills base lags behind many comparator countries and that participation in learning is unequal. Active intervention is needed at national and local level to address this.