Harnessing Growth Sectors for Poverty Reduction: What Works in Reducing Poverty through Sustainable Employment with Opportunities for Progression
Principal Investigator – Professor Anne Green, Warwick University
This project will conduct detailed research and synthesise and assess existing evidence about what works in reducing poverty by harnessing employment opportunities in growth sectors. It will focus on transitions into employment, in-work poverty and raising the quality of jobs.
Traditionally employment has been seen as a key route out of poverty. But the benefits of entry into employment where pay is low are questionable, especially if they form part of a ‘no pay, low pay cycle’ and poverty reduction strategies which focus solely on moving people into work are insufficient. In-work poverty has become an increasingly important issue as labour market changes have led to shifting working practices (including fragmentation of working hours and zero hours contacts) and a polarisation between lower and higher paid jobs which impedes progression in employment as a route out of poverty. There is a need for more ‘good’ jobs that people experiencing poverty can both access and progress in to achieve sustainable exits from poverty.
Following the economic crisis of 2008/9 there has been a renewed interest in industrial policy in attempts to stimulate economic growth. Governments have identified so called ‘growth sectors’. The proposed research seeks to fill a gap in evidence about ‘what works’ in harnessing growth sectors for poverty reduction. It recognises that these sectors generate new opportunities for those who are out of work. They are the focus of policy to support the growth of opportunity and are more likely to experience skills deficiencies, so encouraging engagement with skills and training providers. They may also be seeking to reduce staff turnover through developing more clearly defined progression opportunities.
The study has four key elements:
- Element I will identify growth sectors, the number and profile of jobs therein and their growth trajectories. It will use existing large survey data sets to examine how people move between and within growth sectors, and whether and how such moves help people to move out of poverty. It will also identify which sectors offer the best opportunities for progression out of poverty.
- Element II will review existing national and international evidence on ‘what works’ in helping people experiencing poverty gain entry to growth sectors and how their employment progression can be facilitated. It will also examine evidence on how job quality in growth sectors can be enhanced and identify ‘good practice’ examples of relevance to Wales.
- Element III involves six in-depth case studies of practical initiatives to harness growth sectors for poverty reduction. A mix of ‘top-down’ approaches driven by national governments and ‘bottom-up’ approaches led by local authorities and groups of employers in particular sectors will be examined.
- Element IV will bring together and test the findings of the research, identifying policy levers that are available for harnessing growth sectors for poverty reduction, and how they might be best used.
The research addresses two of the Welsh Government’s strategic priorities: tackling poverty and promoting jobs and growth and is designed to be useful to policy makers and practitioners in Wales and beyond. Stakeholders will be invited to participate in workshops held in different parts of Wales in an attempt to maximise the applicability of the ‘what works’ findings to the Welsh context.