The latest Public Policy Institute for Wales report considers how growth sectors can reduce poverty by providing high quality jobs and opportunities for career progression.
Based on research funded by the ESRC and undertaken by Anne Green, Paul Sissons and Neil Lee, the report finds that some growth sectors – such as accommodation and food services, residential care, retail, and agriculture, forestry and fishing – offer effective entry points to the labour market. However, low wages mean that many employees experience in-work poverty. Because of this supporting people to gain work is not sufficient. A sectoral approach also needs to enable them to progress to higher quality, better paid jobs.
The report calls for policies that take account of local labour market conditions and promote joined up action by employers, government, trades unions and others to support people to develop their careers and promote inclusive local economic growth.
The authors advocate place based industrial policies which bring together local stakeholders to improve job quality in sectors like health and social care and accommodation and food, which are important to many local economies in Wales. They argue that local economic development strategies and employment and skills policies must respond to changes in business models and job design in low pay sectors to equip workers for the future.
Local anchor institutions, such as universities, hospitals and local authorities, can play a significant role in improving job quality and local employment by implementing good practice in pay and conditions and developing supply chains and procurement practices that promote high quality jobs.
Careers advice needs to be tailored to local conditions and support those working in low paid jobs to progress, for example by moving to sectors which offer higher quality jobs.