‘Bad’ attitude contributes to low-skill economy

A
vicious cycle of low-skill labour and low-skill jobs contributes to a low-skill
economy, says research and lobbying group The Work Foundation.

A
report, New Work Good Work?, by the Work Foundation’s head of policy research
Andy Westwood, looks at the standard of work and argues that creating good work
is essential to the UK economy.

Westwood
said first we need to reconsider what constitutes ‘good work’. He said that
‘old work’ is frequently seen as ‘good’ – in particular among the more
traditional industries in the more industrialised parts of the UK. Whereas the
massive expansion of jobs in the retail sector – seen as ‘new work’ – is
generally seen as ‘bad’. 

He
said supermarket jobs in particular are seen as low-prestige, low-dignity and
low-benefit.

Supermarkets
and fast food outlets are a career destination at the very end of the food
chain – most people are happy to shop there, but wouldn’t want to work in them.

Westwood
argues that an honest, informed debate about the quality of jobs is long
overdue.

The
report finds that the modern workforce is more critical – more workers are
dissatisfied and levels of contentment with prospects, pay levels, working
hours have all roughly halved in less than 10 years.

"Good
work matters, not just to those people who might be fortunate to do these kinds
of jobs," he said.

"We
need more good jobs in Britain because we perform better as an entire labour
market, as organisations and as individuals.

He
criticised the Government’s ‘work first’ approach, and said it fails to
distinguish between good and bad jobs, and could be thwarting attempts to
improve UK productivity.

"Retail
has been one of the most maligned types of work in modern Britain – and we
should acknowledge that our popular perceptions have been misplaced.

"Much
new work should be reconsidered as decent and productive work, but the real
lesson for government is that more good work means better productivity and
prosperity for the whole country."

By Quentin Reade

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