Thursday, 31 January 2013

The effectiveness of socially sustainable sourcing mechanisms: Assessing the prospects of a new form of joint regulation

an article by Chris F. Wright (Macquarie University, Australia) and William Brown (University of Cambridge, UK) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 44 Issue 1 (January 2013)


The traditional mechanisms for improving and protecting labour standards in advanced economies are failing.

In Britain, the effectiveness of collective bargaining has diminished substantially over the past quarter century. Legally enforceable minimum labour standards have been an inadequate substitute.

A new form of ‘joint regulation’ is emerging that may be better attuned to the contemporary structure of product market competition. It involves employers and unions coordinating action on labour standards across the supply chains of firms that contribute to the production of a particular good or service.

This article explores the circumstances in which these ‘socially sustainable sourcing’ mechanisms develop and examines their impact on labour standards, by means of two case studies.

Cross-country rankings in inter-generational mobility: a comparison of approaches from economics and sociology

an article by Jo Blanden (University of Surrey, London School of Economics) published in Journal of Economic Surveys Volume 27 Issue 1 (February 2013)


This paper summarises research on the relative level of intergenerational mobility – whether classified by income, education or social class.

The literatures on education and income mobility reveal a similar ranking with South America, other developing nations, southern European countries and France tending to have rather limited mobility although the Nordic countries exhibit strong mobility.

Estimates of mobility based on social class point to rather different patterns, and we demonstrate that these differences are most likely generated by intergenerational earnings persistence within social classes.

The second part of the paper looks for explanations for the differences in earnings and education persistence and finds that mobility is negatively correlated with inequality and the return to education but positively correlated with a nation's education spending.

Continuing education and training models and strategies: an initial appraisal

a research report by Stephen Billett, Amanda Henderson, Sarojni Choy, Darryl Dymock, Ann Kelly, Ray Smith, Ian James, Fred Beven and Jason Lewis published by NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research (Australia))


Changing work requirements, an ageing workforce and lengthening working lives requires an education and training system that goes beyond entry-level training and supports lifelong learning.

This report comes out of a three-year program of research that aims to investigate how best the tertiary education and training system might be organised to maintain the employability of Australian workers across their working lives.

Through an investigation of two different industry sectors – community services and health, and transport and logistics – an evaluation of a number of potential training models and strategies that might constitute a national approach to education and training was conducted.

Full report (requires free registration)

European labour market policies in (the) crisis

Working Paper 2012.12 by Jochen Clasen, Daniel Clegg and Jon Kvist published by european trade union institute


Before the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008, the new millennium had been characterised by the gradual emergence of a new consensus around labour market policy reform in Europe.

While in earlier decades labour market policy debates often opposed supporters and opponents of all forms of public intervention in labour markets, by the 2000s there was increasingly widespread coalescence around a more nuanced ‘recalibration’ agenda, in which the central aim was reworking the precise mix of labour market policies and institutions to best reconcile economic competitiveness and social solidarity and to share the risks and opportunities of modern labour markets more equitably than in the past.

The ‘flexicurity’ debate emphasised protecting individuals through good unemployment benefits and active labour market policies (ALMP) rather than protecting jobs through the strict regulation of employment (Viebrock and Clasen, 2009), while reforms to unemployment benefit systems and ALMPs themselves increasingly sought to extend these measures to those most distant from the labour market (Clasen and Clegg, 2011).

In general, ensuring that labour market policies and institutions combated, rather than reinforced, segmentation in the labour market became the overriding concern of policy debates and reforms in many European countries.

This focus on combating labour market segmentation, rather than expanding or cutting labour market policies per se, developed in a period of relatively buoyant economic and employment performance in many countries, at least by post-oil crisis standards. Since 2008, however, this still fragile consensus around the goals of labour market policy reform has been confronted to an entirely novel set of economic circumstances, as a result of sharp drops in output, spikes in unemployment and, as a second-order effect, soaring public deficits.

Comparing labour market policy responses to the economic crisis in six European countries, this paper explores how the economic and political challenges of the ‘Great Recession’ have impacted on the labour market policy reform agenda in Europe.

Have recalibration agendas in labour market policy survived, or even been reinforced by, the economic crisis? Or has the crisis on the contrary revived reform logics and debates that seemed to have been surpassed earlier in the decade?

Is the economic crisis, in other words, also provoking a crisis for European labour market policy reform?

The first section of the paper briefly outlines a number of analytically distinct patterns of possible labour market policy response to the crisis, and their underlying political and economic logics.

Section 2 then provides sketches of the main labour market policy developments in 6 European countries since the onset of the economic crisis, which are then summarised and compared with reference to the analytical framework in section 3.

A brief conclusion draws out the implications of the analysis for the future of labour market policy in Europe.

Full report (PDF 32pp)

Skills for Prosperity? A review of OECD and Partner Country Skill Strategies

a LLAKES (Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies) Research Paper (Number 39) by Mike Campbell


This paper provides a high level overview of the skills strategies being pursued by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and partner countries, based on a review undertaken by the author for OECD as part of the development of its skills strategy (Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives) in 2012.

It first discusses their rationale and imperatives before reviewing their coverage in terms of approach, scope and focus.

It then examines the range of policy levers utilised to raise skill levels, improve supply and demand matching, and enhance skills demand and use.

The sectoral and local dimensions of skills strategies are then discussed before an assessment is made of governance arrangements in terms of the mechanisms used to steer strategy, including both institutional arrangements and other tools to improve policy co-ordination.

The paper concludes by identifying some lessons learned from the review, for the development of more effective skills strategies in the future.

Full report (PDF 70pp)

EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review – December 2012

Against the backdrop of persistent difficulties on the labour markets, marked by ever higher unemployment at EU level, and rising divergence across Member States, the number of people at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU now accounts for nearly one-fourth of the EU population.

The EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review provides an overview of developments in the European labour market and the social situation in the EU, based on the latest available data.

According to its latest issue, the number of unemployed in the EU has continued to rise over recent months, increasing by 3.5 million (or +15.7 %) since March 2011 and reaching a new high of close to 26.1 million (or 10.7 % of the active population), by November 2012, affecting youth in particular (23.7 %).

Unemployment trends remain less favourable in the euro area than in the EU as a whole, while divergence between EU Member States in terms of unemployment rates has continued to widen. EU long-term unemployment continues its by now three-year upward trend.

Owing to – inter alia – the very difficult labour market situation, the number of Europeans at risk of poverty or social exclusion increased by six million between 2008 and 2011, now affecting 24.2 % of the population. The most affected group consists in working-age adults.

The third European Quality of Life Survey makes evident a decrease in both objective living standards and in perceived quality of life between 2007 and 2011/2012, with the effects of the crisis particularly visible for the lowest income quartile.

On the positive side, the unadjusted gender pay gap in the EU declined between 2008 and 2010 on average, from 17.3 % to 16.2 %. This decline appears to be a side effect of the crisis on the composition of the workforce, with male-dominated sectors losing ground relatively more than female-dominated ones and more men accepting part-time and temporary jobs.

Confidence stands at a very low level. As a result, the economic outlook is bleak, with unemployment remaining at a very high level and no significant improvement being forecast before 2014.

This edition of the Quarterly Review takes a closer look at the labour market and social situation in Portugal. In addition to the regular analysis of sectoral trends, a focus on the health and social services in the EU is also presented, supplemented by a more in-depth analysis ("Special Supplement").

Full text (PDF 79pp)

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Assessing experiential learning styles: A methodological reconstruction and validation of the Kolb Learning Style Inventory

an article by Chris Manolis, David J. Burns, Rashmi Assudani and Ravi Chinta (Xavier University, Cincinnati, USA) published in Learning and Individual Differences Volume 23 (February 2013)


To understand experiential learning, many have reiterated the need to be able to identify students’ learning styles. Kolb’s Learning Style Model is the most widely accepted learning style model and has received a substantial amount of empirical support.

Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory (LSI), although one of the most widely utilized instruments to measure individual learning styles, possesses serious weaknesses. This study transforms the LSI from a type (categorical measure) to a degree (continuous measure) style of learning style measure that is not only more parsimonious but is also easier to use than the existing LSI.

Two separate studies using samples of engineering and computer science graduate students (Study 1) and undergraduate and graduate students pursuing quantitative degrees (Study 2) culminating in a corroborative multi-sample validation were employed, producing a methodologically sound option to the existing LSI.

Implications for future research and guidance for learning and teaching methods are discussed.


► We propose a revised instrument to measure student learning styles.
► We explore existing instruments to measure student learning styles.
► We propose a revised Kolb's Learning Style Inventory.
► An improved instrument is proposed with greater ease of use.
► A continuous scale is proposed to measure learning styles.

Figures and tables from this article

When is a volunteer not a volunteer?

The standard answer to that question used to have something to do with the press-gang – not that I actually remember the days when able-bodied men hid rather than be taken away to man His Majesty’s ships.

The answer nowadays seems to have a lot to do with Mandatory Work Activity or young people or even, dare I say it, libraries.

Define: volunteer
Noun, a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
Verb, freely offer to do something.

There’s nothing in there about whether or not you get paid although in present-day usage it is generally the case that those who volunteer do so with the expectation that the freely means without expectation of monetary reward.

Anyway, the point of all this rambling is to point you at Phil Bradley's weblog which starts off by highlighting an article about Lewisham library volunteers on workfare scheme!!

Ending Child Poverty by 2020: Progress made and lessons learned

In this landmark report (edited by Lindsay Judge), CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) has brought together leading academics and campaigners to reflect on the progress made towards ending child poverty in the UK, as well as to consider the risks for the future.

The report sets out where we are today, exploring the official poverty statistics alongside broadening measures of child well-being and social mobility.

It also shows that ongoing efforts to redefine “poverty” are disparaging what has been achieved to date. Many of the crucial programmes that have enabled over a million children to be lifted out of poverty over the past decade are now under threat. If the pledge to end child poverty in a generation is to be fulfilled, urgent action is needed now.

First published June 2012, updated December 2012.

Full report (PDF 92pp)

Print copy is available for £10 + p&p from CPAG’s online shop

Beyond the Business Case: An Ethical Perspective of Diversity Training

an article by Kristen P. Jones, Eden B. King and David S. Geller (George Mason University), Johnathan Nelson (Morehead State University) and Lynn Bowes-Sperry (Western New England University) published in Human Resource Management Volume 52 Issue 1 (January/February 2013)


Extant literature on diversity training programs continues to yield little evidence of their overall effectiveness. Whereas the most common approach to diversity training entails justifying the value of diversity on the basis of its contribution to the organization’s bottom line, we argue that approaching diversity training from an ethical perspective may bolster the effectiveness of traditional approaches.

Specifically, to the degree that traditional bottom-line justifications are enhanced with social justice arguments, training effectiveness will increase.

In the following article, we discuss traditional approaches to diversity training, provide a general overview of ethics, discuss how theory and research from behavioural ethics literature might help to address some of the challenges faced in diversity training, and draw from ethics literature to make specific, novel suggestions about the implementation and presentation of diversity training.

The Re-emergence of Europe: Tackling Europe's Youth Unemployment

a report by Kira Clarke published by NCVER (National Centre for Vocational Education Research in Australia)


This report explores the relationship between vocational education and training in (VET) in schools and the labour market.

Four models of VET in Schools are used to establish how VET in Schools is conceptualised and how occupational and further VET study outcomes are maximised.

Interviews and surveys with stakeholders also consider how VET in Schools can be strengthened.

Overall, VET in Schools does not provide a strong link to direct employment as it is generally undertaken at certificate I and II level and does not contain enough workplace learning.

Instead, VET in Schools may be better placed as a pathway to further vocational study. This work is part of the three-year research program Vocations: the link between post compulsory education and the labour market.

The full report in either DPF or Word is available (free registration required).

Further information about the Australian VET in Schools programme is available from the Australian government here.

Paying to work: childcare and child poverty

a report published by Barnardo's

  • Under Universal Credit, once childcare costs are factored in, lone parents with more than one pre-school child will face significant disincentives to working enough hours to lift themselves out of poverty under Universal Credit. This group could face having to pay to go to work.
  • Lone parents with only one pre-school child could face losing a significant proportion of any extra money that they earn. This could act as a substantial barrier for families looking to work their way out of poverty.
  • Barnardo's believes that increasing the proportion of childcare costs covered under Universal credit to 80 per cent is essential. This would support the government's commitment on making work pay, and help give families a viable way to work themselves out of poverty.
  • The government should also undertake a feasibility study on how to move towards and extension of the free early years entitlement from 15 hours to 20 hours, or beyond, for disadvantaged children. This would have the twin outcome of supporting employment for parents and helping the life chances of disadvantaged children, something strongly emphasised in it child poverty strategy. In addition if would help alleviate the problems of a lack of funding directed at disadvantaged children aged three and four previously outlined by Barnardo's.
Full text (PDF 11pp)

Let Them Play! Active Learning in a Virtual World

an article by Shu Z. Schiller, Kendall Goodrich and Pola B. Gupta (Wright State University, Ohio, USA) published in Information Systems Management Volume 30 Issue 1 (2013)


In this research, the authors introduce Second Life in undergraduate marketing courses to evaluate its impact on learning.

Following the principles of active learning, they conducted two studies (“observing-reflection” and “observing-doing-reflection”) in which a total of 201 marketing students participated.

Findings show that students who feel Second Life is more game-like and easy to use report greater effectiveness of learning. When “doing” is incorporated in learning activity, enjoyment and learning outcomes improve significantly.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Things You Wish You’d Known Before a Job Interview

via Lifehack by Brian Lee

A job interview is one of the most important events that can change the direction of your life. Even if you have spent many hours preparing for interviews, it can’t guarantee that you can get through it successfully.

Classes and Careers has created an infographic that provides you with some things you wish you’d known before your job interview that may just increase your chances – or at least prevent you from making a mistake.

Access the infographic here

Hazel’s comment:
Classes and Careers is an American site but some readers may find it useful to check occasionally.
I couldn’t find any information about copyright on the infographic.

Reexamining Theories of Adult Learning and Adult Development Through the Lenses of Public Pedagogy

an article by Jennifer A. Sandlin (Arizona State University, Tempe, USA), Robin Redmon Wright (Penn State Harrisburg, Middletown, USA) and Carolyn Clark (Texas A&M University, College Station, USA) published in Adult Education Quarterly Volume 63 Number 1 (February 2013)


The authors examine the modernist underpinnings of traditional adult learning and development theories and evaluate elements of those theories through more contemporary lenses.

Drawing on recent literature focused on “public pedagogy,” the authors argue that much learning takes place outside of formal educational institutions.

They look beyond modernist narratives of adult development and consider the possible implications for critical adult learning occurring in and through contemporary fragmented, digital, media-saturated culture.

Evaluation of Mandatory Work Activity

Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No 823

A report of research carried out by ICF GHK and TNS-BMRB on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions

Mandatory Work Activity was launched in May 2011 and is targeted at a small group of claimants and referral to MWA is at Jobcentre Plus Adviser discretion.

MWA is a work placement of 30 hours a week lasting for four weeks. The placements are sourced by contracted providers in organisations/institutions that deliver a community benefit.

The aim of MWA is to move claimants closer to work through:
  • Gaining a better understanding of labour market discipline via the work placement and;
  • Demonstrating to claimants that receipt of benefit for those able to work is conditional on their willingness to search for and take-up employment.
The latest official statistics on Mandatory Work Activity were published on the 14th November which report 90,470 referrals and 33,170 starts for the period May 2011 to August 2012.

This research complements the impact assessment of Mandatory Work Activity published in June 2012:

The research has found that MWA has an impact on participants’ proximity to the labour market via an impact on a range of soft outcomes. The research report also identifies a number of challenges in service delivery and makes recommendations, many of which DWP have already addressed through continuous improvement activity.

Summary (PDF 6pp)

Full report (PDF 169pp)

The Re-emergence of Europe: Tackling Europe's Youth Unemployment

via Huff Post World Economic Forum (not one of my usual sources) by Klaus Schwab (founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum)

The European debt and banking crises have had a devastating impact on youth unemployment across the region. Millions of young people today face the prospect of becoming a lost generation living through a lost decade, and many worry that they have no future. Their trajectory, in contrast to that of their parents and grandparents, is defined not by hope, but fear.

Continue reading

But as an inducement to you to link through:
  • This is known as the "scarring effect" in economic jargon.
  • So what can be done?
    Here are a few suggestions from a World Economic Forum and ManpowerGroup report.
    • Higher participation in career guidance programmes for school children.
    • Better career and labour market information for young job seekers.
    • A more positive image for vocational education.
    • Better training.

Social Resume: How Job Seekers and Employers are Connecting Online

via Online Colleges by Kristin Marino

There’s no way around it … you need a resume to get a job. And it’s not just enough to list your job experience onto a Word document, plop your education information at the end, and email it to recruiters. For one thing recruiters are looking in all sorts of interesting places for the next great employees for their companies. Also, potential employees are impressing recruiters with their social resumes.

Digital social resumes are a modern take on traditional resumes. While you definitely need to include your work experience and education on your social resume, you can expand the information you provide to prospective employers to include samples of work, pertinent links and more.

When you create your social resume, you are, in essence, creating an online presence as a person who makes a valuable contribution to the workplace and who is worth seeking out for positions recruiters are looking to fill. Even if you aren’t actively looking for a new job, it’s smart to create a presence on career networking sites such as LinkedIn.

Recruiters are known to scour these sites looking for workers who meet specific job criteria. And while Facebook has been known to have a hand in more than one person losing their job due to inappropriate postings or over-use at work, now you may be able to use Facebook to get a job - Facebook launched a job board in late 2012.

Nothing can take the place of that basic PDF resume, but that should be only one tool in your job-hunting arsenal. Learn more about social resumes in our infographic below, then check out our list of 10 tips for optimizing your social resume.

Since even a medium-sized copy of the infographic manages to convey very little please link through to see it.

And readers in the UK, which is most of you, remember that a CV does not equal an American resume (although it comes close and it the case of the tips is probably indistinguishable).

Work as a Health Outcome in the Devolved Nations:

How Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland tackle sickness-related worklessness
by Mark Weston and Julia Manning published by 2020health December 2012

Executive Summary

The proportion of adults in Britain who are unable to work because of health problems has more than tripled since the 1970s, at an estimated annual cost to the economy of over £100 billion. While half of those in Scandinavia who suffer a major injury return to work, in Britain the proportion is just one in six. In England alone, 2.1 million people claim health-related benefits, a number that despite health improvements has barely shifted in the past decade.

Work is clearly needed to improve our record on reducing sickness-related worklessness, therefore. This report gathers lessons from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and draws on them to make recommendations for policy-makers and practitioners in England, as well as identifying areas for improvement in the devolved nations themselves. Efforts in the latter are often more advanced than those in England, and each boasts innovative programs that provide useful lessons for the Health and Wellbeing Boards that will bear primary responsibility for redressing England’s deficit in this area.

Based on our review of the literature, in-depth telephone interviews with high-level stakeholders in the field, a field visit to Glasgow, and a London workshop with members of Health and Wellbeing Boards, we make the following recommendations for those wishing to reduce sickness-related worklessness in England and in the devolved nations:
  1. The importance of leadership: The success of Wales and Scotland in this area has been founded on strong leadership from the centre. England’s Health and Wellbeing Boards should press the case for action to high levels of government as well as locally.
  2. Clear national strategies: The governments of Scotland and Wales developed strategies that held the various stakeholders to account and defined clear timelines and responsibilities for action. These resulted in the establishment of effective national bodies to promote workplace health and return to work services, and in a flurry of local-level initiatives to see policies through. England and Northern Ireland currently lack such well-defined strategies.
  3. Get your own house in order: The Northern Ireland Civil Service and RCN Wales have shown leadership in developing effective workplace health strategies. Sickness absence costs the NHS over £500 million each year (Black, 2008), and private sector firms are likely to look more favourably on efforts to reach them with work and health schemes if those delivering them look after their own staff well. Improving the health of those working for the NHS can have the added effect of persuading them of the importance of the work and health nexus.
  4. Goal-directed joint working: Involving a range of stakeholders in the development of policies and the delivery of programmes is vital for effective implementation. Engaging the most relevant stakeholders for achieving particular objectives and securing their sign up to targets increases accountability and renders goals more likely to be met.
  5. Consistent communications: The value of communicating consistently to all audiences was repeatedly highlighted by our interview respondents. Strong and clear messages can assist in the creation of a coherent “national brand” for health and work.
  6. The value of hubs: Employers and health care practitioners are likely to benefit from one-stop shops that provide a single point of contact to which they can turn for assistance and information, and which can direct them to the relevant service.
  7. The value of hubs for programme implementers: To avoid reinventing the wheel, those designing and delivering health and work programmes would benefit from a central hub – either national or UK-wide – where case studies and data on programme effectiveness are collated and disseminated.
  8. Inclusion of cost-benefit analysis in evaluations: Evaluation of programmes in the devolved nations has been consistent and quite rigorous. However, few analyses have assessed the benefits of projects in comparison with their costs. Practitioners in all four home nations should endeavour to incorporate cost-benefit analysis into policy and programme evaluation.
  9. Targeting of “other” health professionals: Allied Health Professionals, practice nurses, optometrists and even practice receptionists can transmit valuable messages to those with health conditions, and rather than expending all their time and effort trying to convince GPs, advocates of programmes should focus part of their communication campaigns on these non-GP audiences.
  10. Take a long view: Prevention is vital to reducing sickness-related worklessness, and there is much that employers and health and social service providers can do to help stop people needing to take time off work. If a health problem develops, early intervention is needed to prevent it causing prolonged absence. Care and guidance should not stop when a client returns to work, moreover – the steps on the road back to employability should be valued and built into targets, and continued assistance in the period after re-employment reduces the risk of clients being placed in unsuitable jobs in order to meet targets, and helps with adjustments that lead to sustained employment.
Full text (PDF 31pp)

New Funding for Welfare Benefits Advice

via Poverty Alliance January e-news

The Scottish Government has announced new funding of £5.4million to support organisations providing advice to people who will be impacted by welfare benefit changes.

Citizens Advice Scotland will receive £300,000 and a £1.7 million fund has been established to provide direct support to advice services. A further £3.4 million will be spent over the next two years helping organisations mitigate the impact of welfare reform.

Scottish Government news release

Monday, 28 January 2013

The return of class war conservatism? Housing under the UK Coalition Government

an article by Stuart Hodkinson (University of Leeds, UK) and Glyn Robbins (Birkbeck, University of London, UK) published in Critical Social Policy Volume 33 Number 1 (February 2013)


The May 2010 election of a Conservative-dominated UK coalition government unleashed an unprecedented austerity drive under the auspices of ‘deficit reduction’ in the wake of the global financial crisis.

This article focuses on housing policy to show how the ‘cuts’ are being used as an ideological cover for a far-reaching, market-driven restructuring of social welfare policy that amounts to a return of what Ralph Miliband called ‘class war conservatism’.

We revisit the main ideological contours and materialist drivers of Thatcherism as a hegemonic strategy, discussing the central role played by housing privatisation in the neoliberal project that was continued, but not completed, by New Labour.

We then discuss the Coalition’s assault on the housing welfare safety net it inherited, arguing this has rapidly shut down alternative directions for housing and represents a strategic intervention designed to unblock and expand the market, complete the residualisation of social housing and draw people into an ever more economically precarious housing experience in order to boost capitalist interests.

More Is Not Always Better: Intuitions About Effective Public Policy Can Lead to Unintended Consequences

an article by Ellen Peters and Louise Meilleur (The Ohio State University), William Klein and Annette Kaufman (National Cancer Institute) and Anna Dixon (The King’s Fund, London) published in Social Issues and Policy Review Volume 7 Issue 1 (January 2013)


Public policy decisions often appear based on an assumption that providing more options, more information, and greater decision-making autonomy to consumers will produce better outcomes.

We examine reasons why this “more-is-better” approach exists based on the psychological literature. Although better outcomes can result from informed consumer choice, we argue that more options, information, and autonomy can also lead to unintended negative consequences.

We use mostly health-related policies and guidelines from the United States and elsewhere as exemplars.

We consider various psychological mechanisms that cause these unintended consequences including cognitive overload, affect, and anticipated regret, information salience and availability, and trust in governments as authoritative information providers.

We also point toward potential solutions based on psychological research that may reduce the negative unintended consequences of a “more-is-better” approach.

University access for disadvantaged children: A comparison across English speaking countries

DoQSS Working Paper No. 12-11 December 2012 by John Jerrim (Institute of Education, University of London), Anna Vignoles (University of Cambridge) and Ross Finnie (University of Ottawa)


In this paper we consider whether certain countries are particularly adept (or particularly poor) at getting children from disadvantaged homes to study for a bachelor’s degree.

A series of university access models are estimated for four English speaking countries (England, Canada, Australia and the United States) which include controls for comparable measures of academic achievement at age 15.

We not only consider access to any university but also admission to a ‘selective’ institution.

Our results suggest that socio-economic differences in university access are more pronounced in England and Canada than Australia and the United States, and that cross-national variation in the socioeconomic gap remains even once we take account of differences in academic achievement.

We discuss the implications of our findings for the creation of more socially mobile societies.

JEL classifications: I20, I21, I28

Full report (PDF 53pp)

The transition from education to employment

via CASCAiD's Blog by Rachel-CASCAiD

A report called Education to Employment: Designing a System that Works (PDF 112pp) published by McKinsey and Company explores the transition for young people from school into sustainable employment.

The report also questions why there is such a gap between what employers want and the skills students leave school with. “sThere are high levels of youth unemployment and a shortage of jobseekers with critical  skills.”

Continue reading and get more information from CASCAiD

Fortress Britain: the institutional stranglehold of Secured by Design leaves no space for well-being

via the new economics foundation by Jody Aked

Fortress Britain is the subject of a new working paper, written with Anna Minton and published as part of nef’s Prevention Papers this month.

Over the last couple of decades our most troubled communities have been sold the idea that living in safe, harmonious neighbourhoods can be achieved by extending the height of a gate or adding another CCTV camera. This is troublesome, because technological solutions themselves discourage human ones which support active engagement, cooperation and relationship-building. Our securitised buildings repress the innovation, resourcefulness and energy people bring to solving community issues when given a more positive framework to work with.

Continue reading

Where have all the wages gone? lost pay and profits outside financial services

a TouchStone Extra report by Howard Reed (Landman Economics) and Jacob Mohun Himmelweit (research fellow, New Economics Foundation)

Executive summary

This is a report about the share of wages in national income (“the wage share”) in the UK. Over the last 35 years there has been a substantial shift from wages to profits in the UK economy. Data from the Office for National Statistics show that between 1977 and 2008 the wage share fell from 59 per cent of national income to 53 per cent, while the share of profits in national income rose from 25 per cent to 29 per cent. At the same time, average (median) earnings failed to keep pace with growth in national income (as measured by gross domestic product (GDP)). If wages had kept pace with growth in overall UK output between 1980 and 2010, median annual earnings for full-time workers would now be around £7,000 higher than they actually are. The fall in the share of wages in national income accounts for just over a third of this gap, with the other two-thirds due to earnings becoming more unequal.

Taking account of increased employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (which form part of employee compensation in the national accounts), the fall in the wage share is even more pronounced. A comparison with other countries using data from the OECD shows that, while most countries have experienced a declining share of wages in national income over the last four decades, the decline in the wage share in the UK is particularly high by international standards.

Empirical research on the determinants of the falling wage share using cross-country panel data suggests that four different factors are responsible:
  • technological change
  • globalisation (increased liberalisation of product markets and increased mobility of capital across national boundaries)
  • financialisation (the increased role of financial activity and rising prominence of financial institutions in national economies)
  • reductions in the bargaining power of labour.
However, the relative importance of each explanatory factor is disputed. Research from the IMF and the European Commission argues that technological change is the primary determinant of the wage share, but more recent academic research that includes financialisation as an explanatory variable finds that increased role of financial activity in the economy is the most important driver of falling wage share.

Further investigation of the factors explaining the increase in the profit share over the last 30 years shows that the share of total profits accounted for by financial sector firms increased dramatically from around one per cent in the 1950s and 1960s to around 15 per cent in the years 2008 to 2010. The whole of the upward trend in the profit share over the last 30 years is attributable to the increased profitability of the financial sector. At the same time, investigation of trends in the wage share by industry show that the overall fall in the wage share over the last three decades has largely been driven by contraction of the industries where wage share is relatively high, and expansion of industries where the wage share is relatively low, rather than falls in the wage share in individual industries. These figures underline the importance of the ‘financialisation’ of the UK as a driver of recent trends in the UK economy, and underline the magnitude of the task facing politicians seeking to ‘rebalance’ the UK economy, with a greater role for the manufacturing industry and non-financial services; over recent decades the UK economy has been heading in the opposite direction – with financial services responsible for an ever-greater proportion of operating surplus.

In terms of the distributional impact of a shift from wages to profits, our analysis of recent data from the UK Family Resources Survey (the most accurate source of survey data on incomes in the UK) shows that income from investments is distributed far more unequally than income from wages. Each pound of family income that comes from investments makes a contribution to inequality among working-age families that is four times greater than a pound of income from gross earnings. This suggests that the falling wage share is likely to be associated with an increase in income inequality. Analysis of UK data on inequality over time confirms this; during the 1980s inequality increased markedly, and the wage share fell at the same time.

Some economists have argued that an increase in the profit share is good for economic growth because increased profitability leads to additional funds for business investment. However, the data for the UK from 1975 onwards show a negative correlation between the profit share and the level of business investment. At the same time, business expenditure on research and development – a key measure of innovation (which is essential for economic growth) – has been falling as a share of GDP since the mid-1980s.

An alternative economic argument is that, because the propensity to consume out of wage income is higher than the propensity to consume out of profit income, a higher wage share should increase growth because demand increases had – hence firms increase their investments in anticipation of being able to sell extra output. This story seems consistent with recent UK evidence, and also with most cross-country empirical work on the relationship between wage share and growth, which shows a positive relationship between the wage share and increases in output.

Full text (PDF 36pp)

Voluntary Sector Independence Under Threat

via Poverty Alliance e-news

The latest report from the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, Independence under Threat: the Voluntary Sector in 2013, [PDF 52pp] has found that in the last year both explicit UK Government actions, and inactions, has had a serious impact on the independence of campaigning charities working with it.

The report says the UK Government has:
  • imposed contractual gagging orders on some charities, stopping them speaking out about government policies or publicly releasing data
  • advised local authorities not to fund certain campaigning charities
  • failed to carry out its own policies to support the independence of the voluntary sector.
Sir Roger Singleton, chair of the Independence Panel, said: “Voluntary organisations enjoy widespread support because they are independent and distinctive. It is not just the personalised help they give. It is also their independent voice on behalf of unpopular causes, which is especially important when engagement in mainstream politics is declining.”

Five steps to a recession proof career

an article by Jan Reuter (Based at Adaptable Careers, Ladysmith, Canada) published in Industrial and Commercial Training Volume 45 Issue 1 (2013)


Would you like to take control of your career so that you are not at the whim of the employer or the economy? The aim of this paper is to learn how to apply successful small business strategies to your career so that you are in charge.

Learn how to apply successful small business strategies to your career so that you are in charge. This article will help you to look at your career through the lens of an entrepreneur taking a product to market – in this case the product is you! The five steps include:
  • assessing the strengths, capabilities and skills of your product;
  • reviewing what the market wants;
  • analysing the gaps between your product and what the market wants;
  • planning the further development of your product; and
  • marketing your product.
As of July 9 the author is launching a survey to gather success stories of how people have recession proofed their careers. However at the time of this writing the findings from that survey are not available.

Practical implications
These practical steps are easy to apply and can give your career the boost it needs in these uncertain economic times.

While many authors have given the advice to either treat your career as a business or to be the Chief Executive Officer of your career, “Five steps to a recession proof career” provides practical advice on how to actually achieve that goal.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Shattered on Sunday

because I was volunteering at a Time to Change event in Stratford yesterday.
That’s Stratford as in East London not upon-Avon.
Great fun and games together with a lot of talking about mental health.
It’s a good thing that most of this was pre-prepared!

Lead and violent crime – why a good hypothesis isn’t proof
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
We know that lead exposure can be dangerous. We know that it can cause brain damage. But what levels are dangerous. How does that damage express itself? And how do you separate the effects of lead poisoning from a whole host of other potentially dangerous, damaging factors?
Last week [early January 2013], Mother Jones had a well-done article about research that is drawing connections between leaded gasoline and the crime wave of the mid 20th century.
That’s a hypothesis.
It’s a hypothesis with a lot of correlational evidence. But it’s not proof.
I recommend reading public health researcher Scott Firestone’s excellent article that delves into the details of the studies from the Mother Jones story.
It’s a great look at the lines between public health as a science and public health as activism and it helps shine some light on why seemingly airtight cases aren’t always immediately acted upon.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
From ballads to broadsheets, suicide fascinated 18th-century England. An aristocratic temperament was called for... more

U.S.S. Kentucky: 1900
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
U.S.S. Kentucky: 1900
Circa 1900
“U.S.S. Kentucky – quarter deck and after gun turrets”
8x10 inch glass negative by Edward Hart, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

The Curious Mathematics of Domino Chain Reactions
via New on MIT Technology Review
A toppling domino can push over a larger domino but how much bigger can the next one be?
One mathematician thinks he’s worked out the secret behind domino chain reactions.

Continue reading

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A jury of art students in 1913 convicted Matisse of “artistic murder”. They disagreed, it seems, about what makes a canvas a painting... more

Tracking El Niño
via Encyclopaedia Britannica blog by Gregory McNamee
A storm’s dark clouds appear over Panama City Beach, Florida, U.S. Credit: © Peter Dedina/
Melting ice caps, globe-shrouding dust clouds, parched crops, rising seas, disappearing rivers, howling whirlwinds: the weather has gone from being that topic of conversation that no one does anything about to commanding headlines and international conferences, made urgent by the growing fear that it is becoming less predictable and more violent, and likely to grow worse.
Continue reading

Literary Graffiti From All Over the World
via Flavorwire by Emily Temple
Those literary types sure are rebels.
Or at least, that’s what we gather from the amount of bookish graffiti that peppers public walls from New York City to London to Yerevan.
We published our first collection of literary graffiti around this time last year, but since it just keeps popping up, we figured we’d kick this year off with another sweep – 20 great examples of bookish branding, from the impossibly skilful to the sweetly childish.
And do let us know if we missed the literary wall in your neighbourhood in the comments!
And one example:

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
A professor of writing is stalked online by a former student who perseveres to “ruin” him in public. This is how it feels... more

Why We Know the Earth is Round
via 3quarksdaily by S. Abbas Raza

How plants stay warm
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Plants and animals have to adapt to live in high latitudes and chilly mountain environments. With animals, we kind of instinctively know what makes a creature cold-weather ready – thick, shaggy fur; big, wide snowshoe paws. But what are the features of cold-weather plants? It’s one of those really interesting questions that’s easy to forget to ask.
Continue reading

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Saturday Spectacular (and one or two of these items ARE!)

Is Monogamy the Only Way to Be Happy?
via Big Think by Kayt Sukel
There’s a pervasive notion that a monogamous relationship is the ideal. Certainly, that’s what most Americans have been hearing for as long as they can remember. A committed, loving relationship between two people is the end-all-be-all – and, to hear many tell it, the only thing that helps keep the fabric of society from being torn asunder.
Continue reading

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Oscar Wilde in America. One year, 15,000 miles, 140 stops. Henry James was not impressed: “a fatuous fool, a tenth-rate cad, and an unclean beast”... more

Chasing the total eclipse across the Pacific Ocean
Frank Close in Prospect via 3quarksdaily by S. Abbas Raza

What is the most beautiful natural phenomenon that you have ever seen?
A brilliant rainbow set against a distant storm, or a blood red sky just after sunset, perhaps? But anyone who has experienced the diamond ring effect that heralds the start of a total solar eclipse will agree it puts all others in the shade.
Continue reading

1969 : The Magic Christian
via Retronaut by James Golff

“The Magic Christian” is an obscure British cinema classic with an A list cast including Ringo Starr (just before recording Abbey Road) and Peter Sellers. John Cleese makes his big screen debut, Raquel Welch is a dominatrix, Lawrence Harvey recites Hamlet while doing a strip-tease, and lounge singer Yul Brynner serenades Roman Polanski and Christopher Lee in drag.
More images here

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Frivolous, debased, entirely too clever: How did punning – one mark of a supple, fertile mind – acquire such a dubious reputation?... more

1900s-1960s : Kodak Christmas
via Retronaut by Chris Wild

Further images here

End of the Line: 1865
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
End of the Line: 1865
April 1865
“Richmond, Virginia. Destroyed Richmond & Petersburg locomotive”
Aftermath of the Confederate evacuation in which Richmond’s business district, accidentally torched by its own citizens, burned to the ground, the flames extinguished only with the aid of the occupying Federal Army.
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Pride and Prejudice was “too light...and sparkling,” Austen worried. Others say it’s cloistered and unworldly. Both claims are nonsense... more

state of the language
via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
Why is English spelling such a tangle?
It all started when Latin-speaking missionaries arrived in Britain in the 6th century without enough letters in their alphabet. They had 23. (They didn't have “j”, “u” or “w”.) Yet the Germanic Anglo-Saxon languages had at least 37 phonemes, or distinctive sounds. The Romans didn't have a letter, for example, for the Anglo-Saxon sound we spell “th”. The problem continues. Most English-speakers today have, depending on their accents, 40 phonemes, which we have to render using 26 letters. So, we use stratagems such as doubling vowels to elongate them, as in “feet” and “fool”.
With the Norman invasion in 1066, spelling became more complicated still; French and Latin words rushed into the language. As the centuries went by, scribes found ways of reflecting the sounds people used with the letters that they had. They lengthened vowels by adding a final “e”, so that we could tell “hope” from “hop”.
more from Michael Skapinker at the FT here

Gravity powered lights, cheaper than solar
via Boing Boing by Jason Weisberger
 Simple things that we take for granted, like flipping a switch and having light suddenly appear, aren’t so simple in developing countries. This fantastic gravity powered light may change that, if their Indiegogo project is successful.
The designers developed the project in their spare time over four years, while working at London-based design firm Therefore. They’re expecting the light to cost less than $5 to manufacture at scale. Once a family purchases the light, they’ll be able to keep it running at no additional expense.
(Thanks, Thom!)

Friday, 25 January 2013

!0 fascinating items to brighten your Friday

Abbeville’s celebration of animals in illuminated manuscripts
via Pages & Proofs by Richard Davies

Take a look at this new book from Abbeville Press – The Grand Medieval Bestiary: The Animal in Illuminated Manuscripts by Christian Heck, a leading authority on illuminated manuscripts. A book of 587 colourful images from illuminated manuscripts produced during the Middle Ages. Art historian Heck explains that the prevalence of animals in illuminated manuscripts reflects their importance during this period when agriculture was key to everyday life. Animals also appeared in many folk tales of the era.
There’s a couple more illustrations here

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Ruthless power struggles, show trials, forced confessions: The Church of Scientology or the Communist Party in its heyday? Take your pick... more

Physicists Demonstrate First Laser Made From a Cloud of Gas
via New on MIT Technology Review

Clouds that lase are the first Earth-based versions of lasers that occur naturally in space, say researchers.
Continue reading

The Gollum Diet: Cave Creatures from Around the World
via Britannica Blog by Richard Pallardy
Though the peregrinations of the intrepid Bilbo Baggins are the nominal focus of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (the first screen instalment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel), many viewers will likely spend the early portion of the film impatiently waiting for its shadow star, Gollum, to make his first hissing, scrabbling appearance.
Olms (Proteus anguinus), Caves of Chorance, France. Credit: SanShoot {a href=""}Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0){/a}
Olms (Proteus anguinus), Caves of Chorance, France.
Credit: SanShoot Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)
Richard Pallardy provides images of various creatures that might have made for variety in Gollum’s diet.
Warning: Some of them are distinctly spidery!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
For love of women and art. Was Raphael a chaste saint who sublimated his passion into his work? Or was he a womanizer who died in the arms of his mistress?... more

The Meteorology of Little House on the Prairie
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

If you read The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder's novel about narrowly avoiding starving to death during a ferocious winter on the South Dakota prairie, then you’ll remember how the trains stopped running because of the snowfall. In fact, that’s a big part of why Laura and her family were so hungry – their harvest had been lean and the train carried the supplies they were dependent upon.
Continue reading

The Long Hall: 1908
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
The Long Hall: 1908
Circa 1908
“South corridor, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

And a more modern image taken from a different angle!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
John Brockman’s Edge question for 2013 asks more than 150 intellectuals, “What should we be worried about?”... more

76 things banned in the Bible, most of which are punishable by death
via Boing Boing by Xeni Jardin

Milan - detail from facade of Duomo - Expulsion from Paradise
Image: Shutterstock
An oldie but goodie single-purpose Tumblr listing things banned in Leviticus, the banny-est of all scriptures. The sex stuff you can imagine (no bonking animals, dudes if you are a dude, divorcées, your grandmother, or your own children), but here are some particularly weird non-sex items in the list:
  • Eating any animal which walks on all four and has paws (good news for cats) (11:27)
  • Picking up grapes that have fallen in your vineyard (19:10)
  • Mixing fabrics in clothing (19:19)
  • Cross-breeding animals (19:19)
  • Eating fruit from a tree within four years of planting it (19:23)
  • Trimming your beard (19:27)
  • Getting tattoos (19:28)
  • Not standing in the presence of the elderly (19:32)
  • Mistreating foreigners – “the foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born” (19:33-34)
  • Using dishonest weights and scales (19:35-36)
  • Blasphemy (punishable by stoning to death) (24:14)
  • Selling land permanently (25:23)
(HT: James Ball)

Giant squid finally caught on video
via Boing Boing by Jason Weisberger
It was only a matter of time but it sure took a lot of it, Discovery Channel and NHK captured footage of a giant squid!
“Mankind finally confronts the greatest mystery of the deep as the first-ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat is revealed in Discovery Channel’s Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real, which premieres on Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 10/9c as the season finale of Curiosity. NHK will air their special on the first-ever footage of the giant squid in early January 2013.”

Beyond the Bottom Line: The challenges and opportunities of a living wage

via Resolution Foundation Publications

Beyond the Bottom Line, a joint report from the Resolution Foundation and IPPR, presents the first full economic analysis of the living wage in the UK, including:
  • modelling its potential impact on labour demand and considering the potential costs of living wages for employers;
  • analysing which workers and families benefit most from the living wage; and
  • quantifying the fiscal savings to government of wider living wage coverage.
The report sets out the key lessons that emerge from this analysis and makes recommendations for how campaigners, employers and the state can work together to ensure many more workers benefit from the living wage.

Beyond the Bottom Line: The challenges and opportunities of a living wage by Kayte Lawton (IPPR) and Matthew Pennycook (Resolution Foundation) (PDF 78pp)

Transnational labour markets and national wage setting systems in the EU

an article by Gerhard Bosch and Claudia Weinkopf (Institut Arbeit und Qualifikation, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 44 Issue 1 (January 2013)


The article analyses the impact of European regulations of posting on different national wage systems.

The article shows that the impact varied across the countries and has been filtered by the national institutions regulating the labour market.

In the voluntarist wage setting systems of Germany and even Sweden, they have been a major factor bringing wages back into competition. The ability of national actors to act has been considerably curtailed by the European Court of Justice (EUJ), which has placed free competition above the basic rights of autonomous collective bargaining.

Because of the divergent interests of Member States, this weakening of national actors cannot be compensated for by transnational agreements. This ‘negative integration’ brings with it a serious risk that the inclusiveness of European wage systems will be eroded by a series of cumulative effects.

Full text (PDF 20pp) (as published July 2012 with Gerhard Bosch as the single author)

Hierarchies of social location, class and intersectionality: Towards a translocational frame

an article by Floya Anthias (Roehampton University and City University, London, UK) published in International Sociology Volume 28 Number 1 (January 2013)


This article evaluates the potential found within two approaches that recognise the complexity of social hierarchy in different ways.

First, it looks at the revival of class analysis within culturally inflected approaches to class. These have incorporated a number of societal relations, broadly referred to as the symbolic, the social and the cultural, into the analysis.

Second, the article assesses attempts to theorize the intersections of gender, ethnicity and class through the intersectionality framework. It considers the potential for developing more integrated analytical frameworks for understanding social hierarchy through cross-referencing these debates. It proposes an intersectional framing which centres on social location and translocation.

Hazel’s comment:
If, maybe that should be a big if, the UK is serious about social inequality then those in a position to try to do something about it need to understand more about social class and how it affects individuals.
“I can’t do that job, I ain’t a toff” or similar words have been heard during advisory interviews from clients who have the innate intelligence but not the social background to fit in with people whose parents stopped them saying 
ain’t by the time they were five years old.

From admiration to abhorrence: the contentious appeal of entrepreneurship across Europe

an article by Sarah Drakopoulou Dodd (Athens Laboratory of Business Administration, Vouliagmeni, Greece), Sarah Jack (Lancaster University, UK) and Alistair R. Anderson (Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK) published in Entrepreneurship and Regional Development Volume 25 Numbers 1-2 (January 2013)


Although entrepreneurship seems to offer a universal economic solution, there are some doubts about whether it is universally attractive.

We argue that entrepreneurship is a socially constructed concept and consequently the meanings, and hence the appeal, of the enterprise will vary internationally. We argue that how entrepreneurship is understood affects how attractive it seems.

Accordingly, we investigated the meanings of entrepreneurship by analysing a range of metaphors of entrepreneurship gathered from schools across Europe. We found that both the meaning and understandings of the practices vary considerably.

For most, the concept of entrepreneurship as an engine of the economy is attractive, but for some, the practices of entrepreneurs were considerably less appealing. We find links between national socio-economic contexts and attractiveness. We argue that culture and context seem to influence the social constructions of entrepreneurship and hence the attractiveness of entrepreneurial options.

We also find that the pedagogical national narratives of the entrepreneur stand in dynamic tension with the performative national processes of entrepreneurship.

Subtyping Ageism: Policy Issues in Succession and Consumption

an article by Michael S. North and Susan T. Fiske (Princeton University, USA) published in Social Issues and Policy Review Volume 7 Issue 1 (January 2013)


Ageism research tends to lump “older people” together as one group, as do policy matters that conceptualise everyone over 65 as “senior.”

This approach is problematic primarily because it often fails to represent accurately a rapidly growing, diverse, and healthy older population.

In light of this, we review the ageism literature, emphasising the importance of distinguishing between the still-active “young-old” and the potentially more impaired “old-old” (Neugarten).

We argue that ageism theory has disproportionately focused on the old-old and differentiate the forms of age discrimination that apparently target each elder subgroup. In particular, we highlight the young-old’s plights predominantly in the workplace and tensions concerning succession of desirable resources; by contrast, old-old predicaments likely centre on consumption of shared resources outside of the workplace.

For both social psychological researchers and policy-makers, accurately sub-typing ageism will help society best accommodate a burgeoning, diverse older population.

“Someday when I am incompetent…”: Reflections on the Peter Principle, Leadership, and Emotional Intelligence

via In the Library with the Lead Pipe by Kim Leeder

A few years ago I learned of the “Peter Principle”: the concept that in hierarchical organizations, whether public or private, individuals are promoted up to their level of incompetence, and there they remain (Peter and Hull 16).

In their book of the same name, the authors observe with satirical accuracy that, regardless of career field, high-performing individuals are continuously promoted over time until they reach the point at which the challenges of their new position exceed their skills, thereby decreasing their performance, eliminating the possibility of future promotions, and reducing the effectiveness of the organization as a whole.

In short, most people advance in their careers until are promoted to a level at which they cease to achieve.

Peter and Hull attribute this phenomenon to the fact that promotions are generally based upon performance in the old position, while each higher-level position requires new and different skills. Strong job performance as a staff member is not a predictor of strong performance as a manager.

Continue reading where you will find Kim using examples from librarianship but reading it through I simply substituted the British civil service of which I had 22 not always happy years experience!
None of this is, of course, new but I think we all need to be reminded from time to time.

The squeezed middle: The pressure on ordinary workers in America and Britain

via Resolution Foundation Publications
a Policy Press publication by Sophia Parker


As wages stagnate but living costs keep rising, the pressure on working people grows more intense. The issue of living standards has become one of the most urgent challenges for politicians in both Britain and America. “The squeezed middle” brings together experts from both sides of the Atlantic to ask what the UK can learn from the US.

American workers have not benefited from growth for an entire generation – the average American worker earned no more in 2009 than in 1975. Now British workers are undergoing a similar experience. No longer can they assume that when the economy grows their wages will grow with it.

This collection brings together for the first time leading economic and policy thinkers to analyse the impact of different policies on those on low-to-middle incomes and to explain what lessons the UK can learn from America’s “lost generation”. This timely book is essential reading for everyone concerned about the living standards crisis, an issue which could decide elections as well as shaping the future for millions of working families.

“This timely book provides incisive analysis from leading scholars of a key issue of contemporary politics on both sides of the Atlantic. It explores why middle incomes have stagnated and discusses what might be done about it. If you read one political book this year you should read this one.”
Andrew Gamble, Professor of Politics, University of Cambridge

Buy from Policy Press or Amazon

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Global Wage Report 2012/2013: wages and equitable growth

via UN Pulse from U.N. Dag Hammarskjöld Library

This Report, (PDF 116pp) that was funded by the International Labour Organization (ILO), examines regional differences and trends in the years proceeding and following the Global Financial Crisis and provides a fresh overview that aims to assist International Decision-Makers.

This is a really useful summary of the larger document. No point in my duplicating the effort!

Improvements to Work Capability Assessment making "a Real Difference" says Hoban

via TAEN news

Figures published today [22 January 2013] by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that nearly three in ten people being assessed for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) are now getting unconditional support – compared to just 10 per cent three years ago.

The latest figures taken from the quarterly Employment and Support Allowance: Outcomes of Work Capability Assessments, reveal that 27 per cent of people were put in the Support Group, meaning they received unconditional support as they are considered too ill or disabled to work. This is a 1 per cent increase from the previous quarter, and more than double the figure of 10-11% from December 2008 to May 2010.

52 per cent of those assessed were found to be fit for work and were referred to Jobcentre Plus or onto the Work Programme for employment support.

Outcomes of completed initial assessments of claims started in the period from March to May 2012 shows:
  • 48 per cent of claimants were entitled to ESA. Within this -
    • 21 per cent of claimants were placed in the Work Related Activity Group, and
    • 27 per cent of claimants were placed in the Support Group;
  • 52 per cent of claimants were assessed as Fit For Work
Mark Hoban, the minister for employment, said:

“Getting the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) right first time is my absolute priority. Those who are fit should work, but those who aren’t need real support. Today’s figures show that the improvements we have made since 2010 are making a real difference.

“Whether it’s improving the way people with cancer are assessed, making sure we get people’s medical evidence as early as possible, or refining the assessment of people with mental health problems, I am committed to continually improving the system.

“Having a fair and accurate assessment is fundamental to ensuring that those who are able to work get the help they need, and those who are too sick or disabled are fully supported.”


Between October 2008 and November 2011, DWP made over 1.25 million decisions on new ESA claims following a WCA. Of those decisions:
  • Around 742,000 people were found fit for work
  • 39% of people who were found fit for work appealed the decision
  • 37% of those appeals were successful
  • Therefore the Tribunal overturned 15% of all fit for work decisions
The full quarterly statistics, Employment and Support Allowance: Outcomes of Work Capability Assessments, Great Britain - new claims, can be accessed from here.

Reality of UK poverty captured in online BBC Storyville films

Reality of UK poverty captured in online BBC Storyville films
via JRF – Combined Feed by Andy Glynne

Three eye-opening JRF/BBC documentaries are now available to watch online.
Filmmaker Andy Glynne discusses the Why Poverty? series.

Some months ago, Mosaic Films got together with JRF and BBC Storyville to see if we could make some films about poverty in the UK for the global Why Poverty? project.

I was really keen to make some short documentaries, using talented filmmakers from across the country. Although energised and excited by the idea, I also knew that there were huge gaps in my knowledge.

But, of course, the sort of poverty that we see on our television screens doesn’t exist in the UK, does it?

Read on and find out

What Cities Outlook 2013 tells us about how cities can promote economic growth

via JRF - Combined Feed by Josh Stott

What can we learn from a new report about how our cities are performing?

Josh Stott explores the issues.

The league table results from Cities Outlook 2013, released yesterday, are a useful barometer for monitoring the relative performance of our city economies. The report also raises some important issues for research that we have just commissioned, which will review our understanding of city growth and shed new light on the connection between growth and poverty in cities.

A slightly different outlook on the report that I blogged about yesterday.

Surviving Poverty: The Impact of Lone Parenthood

via Poverty Alliance January e-news

research conducted by Fiona McHardy in partnership with community researchers from Fife Gingerbread
Published January 2013

This is the third piece of participatory research to be launched as part of the Poverty Alliance’s EPIC project and is the first to have worked with lone parents to look at their experiences of living on a low income in a rural community.

Specifically, the research has sought to better understand those factors that contribute to, or diminish, the well-being of lone parents. The research was carried out by lone parents who were involved with Fife Gingerbread and went through a comprehensive process of research training, which has not only help build their research skills but has also increased their confidence and ability to speak out on matters that are important to them.

Amongst the key issues to emerge from the report are:
  • A number of factors contributed to well-being (family and support networks, emotional and physical health, choice and freedom), but underpinning many issues was that of low income;
  • Parents spoke of the problems of stress associated with dealing with financial problems. This was compounded by fears about the impact of welfare changes;
  • Rising costs, particularly in relation to food and fuel, were having a real impact. Some parents skipped meals to ensure that their children did not go without;
  • Access to employment and employability services was hampered by a range of barriers including childcare and transport.
  • Lone parents faced a range of barriers to services. This included public transport, digital exclusion and lack of knowledge of support available within their area.
The report provides further evidence on the needs and priorities of lone parents and reminds us of the importance of addressing these priorities if we are to effectively tackle child and family poverty in Scotland.

Full text (PDF 52pp)

Reducing poverty must be central to the debate about Scottish independence

via JRF – Combined Feed by Tom McInnes

Shocking inequalities in health and wealth have been revealed by the sixth Monitoring Poverty in Scotland report from JRF.

Our latest assessment of the trends in poverty and social exclusion in Scotland reveals progress on reducing child and pensioner poverty, which is good news. But what has developed is a stark and worrying picture of poor health and no wealth among people in Scotland.

This has manifested itself in two main ways in the jobs market, ignited by the effects of the financial crash and the recession that followed.
  1. Young people have been hit particularly hard: unemployment among the under-25s stood at 90,000 in 2012, a near doubling since 2008. Unemployment among young adults is still rising, while it has levelled off for older age groups since 2010.
  2. Our report highlights not just unemployment but also underemployment. Full-time jobs have been disappearing in the wake of a relentless rise in part-time positions. That leaves a workforce of 120,000 who want, but cannot find, full-time jobs – up from 70,000 just over four years ago.
Continue reading

Active inclusion of young people with disabilities or health problems

a background paper by Donal McAnaney, Richard Wynne, Edwin DeVos, Femke Reijenga, Claude Delfosse and Jan Spooren published by Eurofound (ref: ef1226)


Young people with disabilities or health problems face particular difficulties in accessing employment. Active inclusion policy is seen as the most appropriate policy instrument for combating the exclusion of these young people from the labour market.

This study examines the implementation of active inclusion policy at national level in 11 EU Member States. The study reviews policy in these countries and compiles information from 44 case studies of good practice among diverse and innovative service providers.

The study concludes that policy and practice need to focus more keenly on these young people, to learn from available evidence, and to take a more joined-up approach to service delivery.

Executive summary (PDF 2pp)

Full report (PDF 132pp)

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Migrants’ social positioning and inequalities: The intersections of capital, locations, and aspirations

an article by Caroline Plüss (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) published in International Sociology Volume 28 Number 1 (January 2012)


This special set of articles promotes new studies and conceptualisations of migrants’ social positioning in the contexts that they form by living in new locations, and/or by being simultaneously connected to several locations.

In different ways, the contributors explain the migrants’ social positioning as consisting of the intersections of the migrants’ various forms of capital, the characteristics of the different locations and of the social actors in these locations that control access to resources, and the migrants’ different aspirations about accessing various resources.

The migrants’ social positioning is presented as an important indicator of their experiences of inequalities.

The articles are highly relevant for conceptualizations and studies of capital conversions in multi-place contexts, migrants’ social integration and non-integration, the intersections of characteristics explaining migrants’ inequalities in place-specific and transnational locations, and for conceptualizations of cultural hybridity.

It is my normal practice to place articles from the same journal into separate blog posts. However. the following four articles in this journal do not seem to stand alone and yet may well be of interest. Links are to abstracts.

Chinese migrants in New York: Explaining inequalities with transnational positions and capital conversions in transnational spaces by Caroline Plüss

Positioning strategies of Polish entrepreneurs in German: transnationalizing Bourdieu’s notion of capital by Magdalena Niowici

Modeling migrant adaptation: Coping with social strain, assimilation, and non-integration by Chan Kwok-bun and Caroline Plüss

Planning for a successful return home: Transnational habitus and education strategies among Japanese expatriate mothers in Los Angeles by Misako Nukaga

Cities Outlook 2013 - an overview

via Centre for Cities by Alexandra Jones

Today [21 January 2013] we launched our sixth Cities Outlook report (PDF 68pp), our annual index of the economic performance of 64 UK cities and towns.

It’s another really rich report, from fascinating individual facts (did you know that Cambridge has more patents approved than the next 10 cities put together?) to insightful longer term trends about what makes cities economically successful over time. See or our Factbook if you’d like further details city by city.

This year it’s clear that the fundamentals still matter most: the cities with the highest skills levels, strong transport connections and a mix of industries are the ones that perform best, whether in boom years or during the downturn.

But there are also some surprises, illustrating the extent to which cities can be affected by individual employer decisions.

Continue reading

Social benefits of higher education

via HECSU Blog by Charlie Ball

The OECD has just released a brief report on the social benefits of HE across their member nations. Much of the information comes from Education at a Glance, but presented in a neat way.

The UK is included, of course, and data shows that graduates are significantly more likely to vote in the UK, and more likely to report satisfaction with life in general than non-graduates (no life expectancy figures for the UK, oddly enough). Graduates in Greece seem pretty hacked off, though, and who can blame them?

This kind of information is always very welcome as we all want rather more metrics to demonstrate the value of HE than rather narrow measures of individual lifetime earnings.

More of this sort of thing, please!

With grateful thanks to Charlie – I missed this completely in the OECD postings.

Labour Market Statistics, January 2013

For September to November 2012:
  • The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.4%, up 0.1 on June to August 2012 and up 1.1 on a year earlier. There were 29.68 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 90,000 on June to August 2012 and up 552,000 on a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 7.7% of the economically active population, down 0.1 on June to August 2012 and down 0.7 on a year earlier. There were 2.49 million unemployed people, down 37,000 on June to August 2012 and down 185,000 on a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 22.5%, unchanged on June to August 2012 but down 0.7 on a year earlier. There were 9.03 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 13,000 on June to August 2012 and down 253,000 on a year earlier.
  • Total pay (including bonuses) rose by 1.5% compared with September to November 2011. Regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 1.4% compared with September to November 2011.
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication 

Full bulletin (PDF 60pp)

Regional Labour Market Statistics, January 2013

Key points
  • Employment rate highest in the East of England (74.9%) and lowest in the North East (68.2%).
  • Unemployment rate highest in the North East (9.1%) and lowest in the South West (5.5%).
  • Inactivity rate highest in Wales (25.0%) and lowest in the East of England (19.6%).
  • Claimant Count rate highest in the North East (7.7%) and lowest in the South East (3.0%).
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication

Full bulletin (PDF 11pp)

Turning away from the public sector in children’s out-of-home care: An English experiment

an article by Nicky Stanley, Andy Bilson, Nicola Farrelly, Cath Larkins and Julie Ridley (School of Social Work, University of Central Lancashire, UK), Helen Austerberry (Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, London, UK) and Shereen Hussein and Jill Manthorpe (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, UK) published in Children and Youth Services Review Volume 35 Issue 1 (January 2013)


This paper reports on the evaluation of an English experiment which, for the first time, moved statutory social work support for children and young people in out-of-home care from the public to the private or independent sector.

Five social work practices (SWPs), independent or semi-independent of local government, were established and evaluated using a matched control design with integrated process evaluation.

Social work teams in the public sector, selected to correspond to key characteristics of the SWP sites, provided control sites. While most SWPs were perceived to be accessible and user-friendly organisations, children’s and young people’s accounts showed no differences between pilots and control sites in terms of workers’ accessibility and responsiveness.

Perceptions of SWP staff’s decision-making were mixed.

SWP staff reported spending more time in direct face-to-face work with children and families but this was attributed to reduced caseload size and a tight remit which excluded child protection work rather than to decreased bureaucracy. SWP staff morale was generally found to be high in terms of depersonalisation and social support, reflecting an emphasis on staff supervision in these organisations.

However, this was offset by slightly higher job insecurity which reflected the precariousness of employment in the independent as opposed to state sector. Staff retention varied between the SWPs, but although children and young people in the pilots were more likely to retain their key worker than those in control sites, they experienced disruption in the move into SWPs and back to public services when SWP contracts were not renewed.

While some SWPs succeeded in reducing placement change rates for children and young people, a policy of switching placement providers to achieve flexibility and savings increased placement change rates in some SWPs.

SWPs did not achieve financial independence from the local authority commissioners with only one assuming full responsibility for managing the placement budget. Payment by results was not used consistently.

None of the commissioners interviewed considered that the SWP model had resulted in savings.

The study highlighted the interdependence of public and private sectors. As small organisations, most of the SWPs succeeded in offering an accessible and personalised service, and public services should consider reorganising to achieve similar outcomes.

However, this evaluation found that contracted-out organisations struggled to provide children in out-of home care with the consistency and continuity they require.


► This paper reports on a national evaluation of a policy experiment in England.
► Social work for children in out-of-home care was moved to independent organisations.
► The evaluation employed a mixed methods, matched control design.
► Social workers in the new services enjoyed lower caseloads and greater autonomy.
► Privatisation led to job insecurity and did not increase continuity for children.