Thursday, 28 March 2013

Design in a downturn? Creative work, labour market dynamics and institutions...

an article by Tara Vinodrai (University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) published in Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society Volume 6 Number 1 (2013)


This article examines how creative workers are adapting to the global economic downturn and how this process is unfolding in different national and regional institutional spaces.

The article draws upon a comparative study of design work in two urban settings in advanced capitalist economies (Toronto, Canada and Copenhagen, Denmark) to explore this question.

It demonstrates that the strategies taken by creative workers to respond to changing economic conditions are actively shaped and constrained by their geographic and institutional contexts.

The article underscores that the existing national and regional institutions provide the foundation for the future possibilities, welfare and prosperity of creative workers.

JEL classification: O18, P5, R23, Z10

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Benefits and Employment: How Problem Drug Users Experience Welfare and Routes into Work

an article by Linda Bauld and Jennifer McKell (University of Stirling, UK), Colin Carroll (University of Glasgow, UK) and Katherine Smith (University of Edinburgh, UK) published in Journal of Social Policy Volume 41 Issue 4 (October 2012)


Increasing the conditionality of welfare benefits is a growing trend in many developed countries, particularly in relation to some groups who may be perceived as undeserving of state support.

Problem drug users (PDUs) are one such group, and in the UK most PDUs do not work and a high proportion claim benefits.

Facilitating the movement of these individuals into employment is a policy aim, because it is believed to improve the circumstances of drug users (and promote future abstinence) and because moving all groups off benefits and into work is a primary purpose of recent welfare reforms.

Yet little is known about the interactions of PDUs with the UK benefits system or how recent moves to increase the conditionality of benefits are likely to affect this vulnerable group.

This paper begins to address this gap by exploring the perceptions that PDUs and relevant frontline staff have of drug users’ interactions with the welfare system and the factors affecting their prospects for employment.

The findings suggest some aspects of recent welfare reforms, notably the simplification of benefits, may help PDUs interact with the system. However, the data also reinforce claims that the increased use of sanctions is unlikely to succeed in improving employment rates amongst this group without intensive support and demand-side interventions.

Workplace mediation and the empowerment of disputants: rhetoric or reality?

an article by Tony Bennett (Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire, UK) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 44 Issue 2 (March 2013)


There has been a growing interest in the field of employee relations in the use of mediation in seeking to resolve disputes in the workplace.

Mediation is a model of dispute resolution, it is argued, that lends itself particularly well to situations where the parties have become entrenched in their positions.

The study’s timeliness is evident in the government’nt strategic focus on workplace conflict, specifically its current initiative to pilot mediation networks within the small and medium enterprises sector.

The research was carried out over a nine-month period ending in March 2012. It is based on the views and experiences of 60 respondents from over 40 cross-sectoral organisations in the North of England.

Findings revealed that the main reasons for the disputes referred for mediation were relationship problems, poor communication and poorly perceived management style and practice. Significantly, differences in sector or occupation could also impact on whether cases went to mediation.

Mental health: the new frontier for labour economics

an article by Richard Layard (Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) published in IZA Journal of Labor Policy Volume 2 Number 2 (2013)


This lecture argues that mental health is a major factor of production.

It is the biggest single influence on life satisfaction, with mental health eight years earlier a more powerful explanatory factor than current income. Mental health also affects earnings and educational success. But, most strikingly, it affects employment and physical health.

In advanced countries mental health problems are the main illness of working age – amounting to 40% of all illness under 65. They account for over one third of disability and absenteeism in advanced countries. They can also cause or exacerbate physical illness.

It is estimated that in the absence of mental illness, the costs of physical healthcare for chronic diseases would be one third lower. The good news is that cost-effective treatments for the most common mental illnesses now exist (both drugs and psychological therapy).

But only a quarter of those who suffer are in treatment.

Yet psychological therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, if more widely available would pay for itself in savings on benefits and lost taxes.

The lecture ends by illustrating how rational policy can be made using life-course models of well-being. Such policies should include a much greater role for the treatment and prevention of mental illness.

JEL classification: I30, J30

Full text (PDF 19pp + charts and graphs)

Barriers to International Student Mobility: Evidence From the Erasmus Program

an article by Manuel Souto-Otero, Jeroen Huisman and SunČica VujiĆ (University of Bath, UK), Maarja Beerkens (Leiden University, the Netherlands0 and Hans de Wit (Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, the Netherlands) published in Educational Researcher Volume 42 Number 2 (March 2013)


In this article, we look at the barriers to international student mobility, with particular reference to the European Erasmus program.

Much is known about factors that support or limit student mobility, but very few studies have made comparisons between participants and non-participants.

Making use of a large data set on Erasmus and non-Erasmus students in seven European countries, we look at the barriers for participation.

Results reveal the overall impact of financial barriers but suggest that it is personal barriers that help us to better differentiate between Erasmus and non-Erasmus students.

The analysis suggests a two-pronged approach to increase participation: one focusing on better information and communication and the other stressing the benefits of Erasmus mobility.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The Return of the Family? Welfare State Retrenchment and Client Autonomy in Long-Term Care

an article by Ellen Grootegoed (University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands) and Diana van Dijk (Centre for Social Policy Studies, City of Rotterdam) published in Journal of Social Policy Volume 41 Issue 4 (October 2012)


European welfare states are cutting back their responsibilities for long-term care, emphasising ‘self-reliance’ and replacing care as an entitlement of citizenship with targeted services.

But we do not know how former long-term care recipients cope with retrenchment and if they are able to negotiate support from their family and friends.

Through an analysis of 500 telephone interviews and thirty face-to-face interviews with long-term care recipients facing reduced care rights in the Netherlands, we found that disabled and elderly persons resist increased dependence on their personal networks.

Most clients who face reduced access to public long-term care do not seek alternative help despite their perceived need for it, and feel trapped between the policy definition of self-reliance and their own ideals of autonomy.

Another EMA is possible

via Toni Pearce (Vice President (Further Education) for the National Union of Students

Lack of evidence appears to be a major theme of our current government’s waves of reform.

The scrapping of EMA was one of the biggest travesties in education policy of the last few years. Its removal flew in the face of all reliable evidence – evidence that showed enormous success rates with regards to post-16 educational retention. But we can do better.

And yes, we’ve always had the evidence and the arguments that say what they’re doing is wrong; but we also now have the evidence to go one step further and say how things should be reformed, based on what we know to be true. Thanks to the Pound In Your Pocket research, we now have an insight into how we might create a system that is fairer and more equitable.

Continue reading

Hazel’s comment:
It’s not only the lack of evidence on which the government bases its policy decisions that gets me angry but that when research shows that the policy is counter-productive it’s firmly suppressed.

Crisis deepens wage polarisation

Europe’s labour market has changed radically since the golden era of job expansion (1995–2007), when nearly 30 million jobs were added in that buoyant period. The Great Recession (2008–2010) and the stalled recovery in 2011–2012 have seen a net loss of five million jobs.

This loss has been far from uniform, however. While the period was characterised by the large-scale destruction of mid-paid jobs, particularly in construction and manufacturing, at the same time the number of higher-paid jobs continued to grow, as well as the employment share of women, particularly in mid-paid and ‘good’ jobs.

The polarisation of the jobs market in terms of wages was already known, but became much more pronounced in the recession. Eurofound’s new report, Employment polarisation and job quality in the crisis: European Jobs Monitor 2013, (PDF 81pp) describes and analyses in detail the structural shifts in employment in European labour markets by wage distribution and sector/occupational category. It also sets out a new multidimensional measure of job quality, the non-pecuniary job quality index. This index is based on collecting information about a wide range of job attributes linked to workers’ well-being.

Authors: John Hurley, Enrique Fernández-Macías and Donald Storrie, Eurofound
Research project: European Jobs Monitor

An executive summary (PDF 2pp) is available

Monday, 25 March 2013

Voluntary organisations and marketisation: a dynamic of employment degradation

an article by Ian Cunningham (University of Strathclyde, UK) Gary Hearne (Middlesex University, UK) and Philip James (Oxford Brookes University, UK) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 44 Issue 2 (March 2013)


This article uses survey data to explore how far the terms and conditions of voluntary sector staff in Scotland are undergoing a process of reform against the backdrop of the sector’s greater engagement in contracting for outsourced public services and a more challenging public expenditure environment.

Its findings reveal that they have been undergoing a widespread process of diminution, which would appear to be becoming both deeper and broader.

They further argue that this process has been intimately connected to a harsher funding environment and therefore raise the prospect of it intensifying further as the current British government’s deficit reduction programme progresses.

Who attends work-related training five years after graduation? A comparison across European countries

an article by Liv Anne Støren (NIFU, Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education, Norway) published in International Journal of Lifelong Education Volume 32 Issue 2 (March-April 2013)


What are the driving forces behind the unequal distribution of training after graduation among higher education graduates? Participation in lifelong learning is restricted here to work-related training.

The paper aims at examining the mechanisms that cause variation in training rates, by taking into account fields of study, personal competency profiles, preferences, motivation and effort, as well as job and workplace-related characteristics and social- and human-capital related variables.

International survey data (the Reflex study) five years after graduation are employed.

The results indicate that participation in work-related training is mainly triggered by push-factors at the workplace, as well as by motivational factors.

The training rates vary across countries, with an especially low participation rate in Norway, and a high participation rate in Finland.

The paper discusses the possible reasons for this variation.

Labour Market Statistics and Regional Labour Market Statistics, March 2013

via ONS Media Centre 20 March 2013

Labour Market Statistics, March 2013

This bulletin contains the latest estimates of labour market statistics (including employment, unemployment and economic inactivity) for the United Kingdom.

For November 2012 to January 2013:
  • The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 71.5%, up 0.3 percentage points from August to October 2012 and up 1.1 from a year earlier. There were 29.73 million people in employment aged 16 and over, up 131,000 from August to October 2012 and up 590,000 from a year earlier.
  • The unemployment rate was 7.8% of the economically active population, unchanged from August to October 2012 but down 0.5 from a year earlier. There were 2.52 million unemployed people, up 7,000 from August to October 2012 but down 136,000 from a year earlier.
  • The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 was 22.3%, down 0.3 percentage points from August to October 2012 and down 0.8 from a year earlier. There were 8.95 million economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64, down 118,000 from August to October 2012 and down 320,000 from a year earlier.
  • Total pay and regular pay rose by 1.2% compared with November 2011 to January 2012. However as inflation measured by the Consumer Prices Index was 2.7% between January 2012 and January 2013, there continues to be a cut in the real value of pay.
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Full publication (PDF 60pp)

Regional Labour Market Statistics, March 2013

Key points
  • Employment rate highest in the South East and East of England (74.9%) and lowest in the North East (67.2%).
  • Unemployment rate highest in the North East (9.8%) and lowest in the South West (5.8%).
  • Inactivity rate highest in the North East (25.4%) and lowest in the South East and East of England (19.6%).
  • Claimant Count rate highest in the North East (7.6%) and lowest in the South East (3.0%).
Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Full publication (PDF 12pp)

Solidarity and Reciprocity in the Social Investment State: What Can be Learned from the Case of Flemish School Allowances and Truancy?

an article by Bea Cantillon and Wim van Lancker (Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp, Belgium) published in Journal of Social Policy Volume 41 Issue 4 (October 2012)


In this article, we discuss some of the new tensions that are emerging between the different foundations of the welfare state.

Several developments have led to the advent of the social investment state, in which people are being activated and empowered instead of passively protected. We argue that this social policy shift has been accompanied by a normative shift towards a more stringent interpretation of social protection in which individual responsibility and quid pro quo have become the primordial focus.

Using the Belgian (Flemish) disciplinary policy on truancy and school allowances as a case in point, we demonstrate that this social policy paradigm may have detrimental consequences for society’s weakest: they will not always be able to meet the newly emerged standard of reciprocity.

This implies an erosion of the ideal of social protection and encourages new forms of social exclusion. As these changes in the social policy framework are not confined to the Belgian case alone, our analysis bears relevance for all European welfare states.

Re-engagement to where? Low SES students in alternative-education programmes on the path to low-status destinations?

an article by John Smyth, Peter McInerney and Tim Fish (University of Ballarat, Australia) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


This paper poses a rarely asked question – Re-engagement to where? Or to what valued social purpose for the young people concerned?

Drawing from a larger project funded by the Australian Research Council, the paper analyses the ‘portraits’ of two young people whose lives were seemingly better within a re-engagement programme, but whose lives were severely circumscribed by the narrow vocationalism offered in the programme.

More concerning was the fact that the considerable natural talents and skills of these young people were neither acknowledged nor used as the basis to improve their life chances or opportunities.

Hazel’s comment:
SES = socioeconomic status (and I had to go and look it up).

Recent Statutory Instruments that some readers may find useful

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness

The Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2013

The Rent Officers (Housing Benefit Functions) Amendment Order 2013


Friday, 22 March 2013

Renaissance treatises on ‘successful ageing’

an article by Chris Gilleard (Unit of Mental Health Sciences, University College London, UK) published in Ageing and Society Volume 33 Issue 2 (February 2013)


Numerous treatises on ‘successful ageing’ were published during the late Renaissance. Zerbi’s Gerontocomia and Cornaro’s Trattato della Vita Sobria, in particular, have been considered as early precursors of modern gerontology.

In this paper I revisit these two treatises, outline their content and common themes, and set them in the context of other literature written about ageing in this period.

The rise of civic humanism, increased access to classical texts on health and hygiene, and the emergence of environmental and public health concerns, particularly in the Italian city states, are some of the factors that influenced this writing.

The powerful yet insecure position of older men in the upper ranks of Italian society gave the topic of ‘seniority’ added relevance. While their roots in the scholastic tradition prevent them from serving as forerunners of scientific gerontology, their humanist concern with ‘lifestyle’ succeeds in making them the prototypes of the ‘do-it-yourself’ manuals for successful ageing that now proliferate in our late modernity.

Transforming stress in complex work environments: Exploring the capabilities of middle managers in the public sector

an article by Jennifer Walinga and Wendy Rowe (Royal Roads University, Victoria, Canada) published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)


The purpose of this paper is to explore how to transform one’s perception of workplace stressors, moving beyond the idea of merely surviving or coping with stress to “thriving” within what is becoming a non-negotiable level of stress in the workplace.

The researchers generated a working definition of work stress thriving based on current literature, then conducted a content analysis of qualitative interviews to develop an empirically-grounded understanding of factors differentiating a stress transformation response from a coping response to workplace stressors.

The study revealed key characteristics of a stress transformation response to stress challenges in the work place: systemic cognitive appraisal, inclusive communication strategies, collaborative and sustainable problem solving, individual learning and growth, and organisational positive impacts.

Research limitations/implications
As a pilot study, limitations to the research include a relatively small sample size and only one type of work environment. More empirical work is needed to test the model, develop and validate measures of stress transformation.

Practical implications
Findings provide the foundation for further empirical research into stress transformation, and will potentially lead to the development of measures, training interventions, organisational structures, and work processes to enhance stress thriving within organisations.

Social implications
The findings provide preliminary insights into tools for both organisational leaders and employees to respond more sustainably to increasingly stressful, fast paced, and complex work environments.

The study provides an original conceptual perspective on the concept of stress management, calling for a paradigm shift that views stress as desirable and conducive to optimal performance.

Cancer and the new Health and Work Assessment and Advisory Service

via The Work Foundation News by Jenny Gulliford

Returning to work can be a positive part of the recovery process for people with cancer, bringing with it physical, mental and social benefits. Working can not only provide economic security, but can help people enjoy society more fully. However, whilst evidence shows that the majority of cancer survivors return to work after treatment, job retention rates are much lower than the general population, with many people with cancer struggling to remain in the workplace.

As a result of the Equalities Act 2010 it is an employer’s responsibility to help an employee recovering from cancer remain at work, supporting them and making any reasonable adjustments to the workplace they might need. However, many employers do not have access to the high quality occupational health advice they need to provide this support.

A new government service may be about to change this.

Continue reading

Recent Statutory Instruments that may be of interest

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness Service

The Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) Regulations 2013

The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2013


Recent Statutory Instruments which may be of interest

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness Service

The Universal Credit (Consequential, Supplementary, Incidental and Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations 2013

The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2013


Labour market, welfare reform and inequality in the United Kingdom

an OECD Economics Department Working Paper (Number 1034) by Christophe André, Clara Garcia and Jon Kristian Pareliussen (OECD, France) and Giulia Giupponi (affiliation(s) unknown)


Employment has risen by more and unemployment has risen less than expected, given the path of output.

Nevertheless, long-term and youth unemployment and involuntary part-time work are high.

A polarised labour market risks worsening income inequality, which is high by OECD standards, despite a recent and likely temporary decline. The UK welfare system is an essential safety net, which needs to promote employment, while protecting the most vulnerable. The reformed welfare system, Universal Credit, and the employment programme for disadvantaged workers, Work Programme, will generally improve work incentives and provide support for return to work, but need to be refined. Skill deficiencies are holding back employment and fostering inequality, as low education achievements penalise children from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Vocational training needs to be strengthened and cooperation with employers reinforced. Transition from education to work can prove challenging, requiring more attention to the integration of university graduates into the labour market.

JEL Classification: I38, J21, J24

Full text (PDF 45pp)

Pass the new Life in the UK Test: The Complete Study Guide for 2013

by Celine Castelino and Chris Taylor

The “blurb” from NIACE says:

This complete and fully up-to-date study guide supports those preparing to take the new Life in the United Kingdom citizenship test required for naturalisation or settlement from 2013. It is designed for adults studying on their own, especially those who do not have English as a first language, or for teachers to use as a textbook for a course on citizenship.

This guide contains:
  • official study material with additional information on important topics;
  • illustrations, tasks and activities to help you learn and remember facts and figures;
  • timelines to help you remember dates;
  • advice and tips on study skills and how to prepare for your test;
  • a glossary to aid understanding of difficult words and phrases;
  • a section on the test – covering the types of questions and other information you need to feel more confident;
  • self-assessment exercises and practice tests with answers to help you check your progress; and
  • further sources of useful information on all the main topics in the new handbook.
Having to pass a test to stay in the United Kingdom may feel daunting but this guide is packed with practical advice, information and activities to make the process easier, perhaps even enjoyable.

Further information and to order
ISBN: 9-781-86201-702-3
Price: £11.95

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Towards a learning identity: young people becoming learners after leaving school

an article by Jane Higgins (AERU, Lincoln University, Lincoln, New Zealand) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


This article explores the development of learning identities among 51 young New Zealanders who left school with few or no qualifications. Most experienced a period of time after leaving school when they were not in education, employment or training (known as NEET).

At the time of this research all had moved into a learning environment of some kind.

The development of learning identities involved the explicit rejection of their former NEET identities and was facilitated by aspects of their current learning environment, particularly relationships with tutors and fellow students and styles of learning that differed from their school experiences. Within this context the young people were able to think about crafting future pathways into further education and employment.

The article concludes with a discussion of current policy directions that attempt to reintegrate these young people into a school-like system, a process that may be unhelpful for them.

The contribution of child maintenance payments to the income packages of lone mothers

an article by Christine Skinner and Gill Main (University of York, UK) published in Journal of Poverty and Social Justice Volume 21 Number 1 (February 2013)


Using the UK Families and Children Study (FACS) (2008-09 wave), this paper assesses the contribution made by child maintenance to the income packages of lone mothers and whether it helps to lift them out of poverty.

Results show that, despite reforms implemented in October 2008 which allowed parents on means-tested benefits to keep up to £20 per week of child maintenance, the effect on poverty is disappointing.

The median amount of payments remains low and only a minority of lone mothers report receiving any money. This raises concerns about the UK Coalition government's latest proposals to introduce charges for using the statutory child maintenance scheme.

Full text (PDF 13pp) published by Gingerbread August 2011

Older age and ill-health: links to work and worklessness

Fiona Carmichael (University of Birmingham, UK), Claire Hulme, (University of Leeds, UK) and Lorna Porcellato (Liverpool John Moores University, UK) published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)


The purpose of this paper is to provide insights on the relationship between health and employment in older age.

Qualitative methods are used with some additional quantitative analysis to explore emergent themes. The qualitative analysis is based on interviews with 56 men and women between the ages of 50 and 68. This part of the study uses the respondents’ own words to explain how physical and mental ill-health has impacted on labour market participation and vice versa. The quantitative analysis uses data from the British Household Panel Study and multivariate techniques.

The research highlights the complexity, individuality and two-way causality underlying the relationships between health, work and worklessness in older age. The analysis also suggests that type of job and workplace conditions matter. The negative impact of the onset of ill-health on employment participation only appears to be accentuated by age for women.

Research limitations/implications
The two data sets are not directly comparable.

Social implications
Planned rises in the age at which state pensions are payable need to be accompanied by policies that improve the health of older people and changes in workplace practices that facilitate longer working lives.

The paper has a specific focus on the relationship between ill-health and employment in older age; uses qualitative methods to draw out the main issues and quantitative analysis to draw additional insights and make some comparisons with younger cohorts.

Dear reader

Yes, you – and you – and you – and you – and you – and you etc

I have been struggling over recent weeks to get eight good blog posts every weekday and have realised the stupidity of continuing to thrash my way through looking for journal articles that are vaguely interesting just to make up an arbitrary number that sort of felt right when I set it as a target. Starting from today I will aim for between four and six (extra if there are Statutory Instruments on benefits and/or social welfare issues).

Part of the problem, I am quite sure, is that I am using the news media less and less as a source for blogging. I’m quite happy to quickly push a button and send an article to Twitter where appropriate but so much of what purports to be news is political denunciation. Whether or not I agree with the welfare reforms (and I do know people who do) is irrelevant.

I will continue to bring you articles from anywhere that say what is proposed, when the changes come into force and so on but I can see no advantage in quoting from a government press release which is effectively saying how wonderful the government is!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Serving and consuming: drink, work and leisure in public houses

an article by Peter John Sandiford (University of Adelaide, Australia) and Diane Seymour (Oxford Brookes University, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 27 Number 1 (February 2013)


This article explores public house (pub) employees’ relationship to alcohol, its service and consumption using data drawn from an ethnographic study of workers in a chain of pubs.

These workers experience a particularly complex relationship between their work and their leisure; they belong to a culture in which drinking in public is the norm for consumers and, as employees, they are responsible for enforcing drinking rules within their workplace – which is also where much of their own leisure takes place.

The concept of partial consumer is used to analyse the fluidity of the work–leisure and service–consumption divides in this context. The drinking norms that develop within the pub enable these workers to construct contextually variable behavioural norms around drinking behaviour, allowing them to behave differently behind and in front of the bar, the symbolic barrier between work and leisure.

The experiences of long-term unemployed young adults in the South West of England: some new insights

an article by Robert Lawy and Rachel Wheeler (University of Exeter, UK) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


In this paper we explore the experiences of three long-term unemployed young adults from different backgrounds in the 18–24 age range.

The data comprise three interviews conducted over an 18-month period with seven of the original 19 participants in the research. At the time of first interview none of the young adults had been in education, employment or training for six months. Drawing upon a Bourdieusian framework, we demonstrate that differential access to economic, social and cultural resources significantly influenced, not only what they were able to reasonably contemplate but also what they were able to achieve.

We question some commonly held assumptions about young people and their orientations, and the efficacy of economic and educational policies designed to increase employment, reduce inequality and ‘meet the needs’ of the unemployed.

We claim that new insights and understandings of youth unemployment and transition can result from a broader, more holistic theorisation that fully represents the experiences and understandings of all the young adults that are being affected.

Notwithstanding this, we indicate the need for research to increase understanding and provide a strong, robust and theoretically informed evidence base for policy-makers and those concerned with the interests of young unemployed adults.

Happier and less isolated: internet use in old age

an article by Orsolya Lelkes (European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research) published in Journal of Poverty and Social Justice Volume 21 Number 1 (February 2013)


This paper explores the impact of internet use in old age on social isolation and on subjective well-being. Does internet use make older people less or more lonely? Does it crowd out face-to-face contacts or enhance them?

We found that social isolation is lower among internet users aged 65 or over. Using a European multi-country cross-sectional dataset with over 11000 observations, we found that those who use the internet regularly have a lower chance of being isolated, more so for those who use the internet every day, controlling for personal characteristics such as income, marital status, gender and health condition. Thus, personal social meetings and virtual contacts are complementary, rather than substituting for each other. Internet use may be a useful way of reducing social isolation.

We also found a positive relationship between regular internet use and self-reported life satisfaction, all else being equal. Our findings were robust in alternative specifications as well.

Full text (PDF 16pp)

Exploratory investigation of drivers of attainment in ethnic minority adult learners

an article by Lara A. Frumkin and Maria Koutsoubou (University of East London, London, UK) published in Journal of Further and Higher Education Volume 37 Number 2 (March 2013)


There is evidence that ethnic minority learners in further education in England either under-achieve or are under-represented because they face various inhibitors connected to their ethnicity. Motivators may be in place, however, which increase attainment specifically for some ethnic groups.

This exploratory study intends to examine what works and what does not among South Asian (Pakistani and Bangladeshi heritage) females and black male adult learners in FE.

A mixed-method study was carried out using questionnaires and focus groups with 68 ethnic minority students in three further education colleges in England.

The combination of the results showed that being a member of a minority culture and/or religion may increase feelings of isolation in academic settings; teaching staff who are knowledgeable about the student’s culture increase feelings of inclusion; and role models are crucially important.

Results are discussed in light of British data of school experiences of ethnic minority learners.

The “Management Standards” for stress in large organizations

an article by Nadine Mellor and Phoebe Smith (Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), Buxton, UK) and Colin Mackay and David Palferman (Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Bootle, UK) published in International Journal of Workplace Health Management Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)


In Great Britain, the ‘”Management Standards” were launched in 2004 and formally published in 2007 by the Health and Safety Executive to help organisations manage work-related stress. The purpose of this paper is to examine how these Standards are translated into organisational practice.

The research uses case studies carried out in five large organisations drawn from the public and private sectors in Great Britain.

Senior management commitment and worker participation are key to managing work-related stress and are commonly reported across organisations, although to variable form and depth. The solution chosen to identify stress issues is a short assessment of all staff via annual staff surveys, coupled with in-depth assessments of groups at risk. Common practice also includes combining individual and organisational interventions. One significant challenge emerges as the translation from identified stress issues to focussed interventions and their evaluation.

Research limitations/implications
The implementation processes outlined in this study are by no means exhaustive due to the small sample size but are consistent with previous research.

Practical implications
The findings suggest that the HSE Management Standards approach for dealing with stress issues is do-able. Refining the information in the HSE guidance on implementing and evaluating interventions and broadening the current focus on organisation-level interventions is needed.

Publication of case studies of the implementation of the Management Standards has been limited. This paper illustrates the efforts made by large organisations to integrate national guidance on stress and this could be used for guiding and improving stress management in similar work settings.

Skills Inequality, Adult Learning and Social Cohesion In The United Kingdom

an article by Jan Germen Janmaat and Andy Green (Institute of Education, University of London, UK) published in British Journal of Educational Studies Volume 61 Issue 1 (March 2013)


In this article we argue that the legitimacy and stability of the social and political order in Britain is undermined by persistent inequalities of skills and opportunities.

We first contend that British society is characterised by a liberal régime of social cohesion.

Crucial to such a régime is the belief in individual opportunity and rewards based on merit.

We demonstrate, through comparative analysis, that skills inequality is actually higher and social mobility lower in Britain than in other western countries. Also the perception of equal opportunities is lower.

In Britain there is thus a mismatch between the cherished ideal of meritocracy and the reality of a stratified society, both objectively and perceived.

This, we postulate, is likely to contribute to the political alienation of disadvantaged groups.

We argue that in theory adult learning could reduce the skills gap but that in reality it only magnifies skills inequality since in Britain the well educated and people in work have higher participation rates than the poorly educated and unemployed.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Youth Unemployment: Review of Training for Young People with Low Qualifications

Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS Research Paper Number 101) by Tony Wilson (Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion)

The report examines how effective training programmes are in raising the qualifications and skills of people who are out work, looking at programmes targeted at young people who are not in learning or work and who had low or no skills.

It found that there are five factors that are associated with more successful training interventions and are applicable to young people with no qualifications:
  • targeting eligibility;
  • smaller scale programmes;
  • a focus on work experience and a transition to work;
  • addressing wider barriers to employment to tackle multiple disadvantage; and
  • a joined up approach to tackle unemployment locally.
Full report (PDF 38pp)

A polarising crisis: higher paid jobs prove most resilient

a Eurofound report by John Hurley, Enrique Fernández-Macías and Donald Storrie published March 2013


This report describes recent structural shifts in employment in European labour markets before, during and after the 2008–2009 recession. It finds that employment destruction across Europe in the recession was strongly polarising in terms of the wage structure, while there was less polarisation in 2010–2012.

A jobs-based approach identifies how net employment shifts at Member State and EU level have been distributed across jobs in different quintiles of the wage distribution.

Executive summary (PDF 2pp)

Full text (PDF 81pp)

Subjective wellbeing: a primer for poverty analysts

an article by Sridhar Venkatapuram (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK) published in Journal of Poverty and Social Justice Volume 21 Number 1 (February 2013)


The article reviews the current theory and measurement of subjective well-being (SWB).

The first two sections discuss growing efforts in many countries to measure and monitor national well-being, particularly in the United Kingdom. The third and fourth sections discuss the novelty and controversies about SWB research.

It concludes that a critical approach is essential in evaluating SWB research but dismissing it offhand or framing it as antithetical to objective well-being is misconceived. The pressing issue for poverty research and public policy is to determine which insights about SWB are worth using, and how much space within conceptions of well-being used in public policy should be given to SWB.

Full text (PDF 13pp)

‘It’s helped me with my anger and I’m realising where I go in life’: …

the impact of a Scottish youth work / schools intervention on young people’s responses to social strain and engagement with anti-social behaviour and gang culture

an article by Ross Deuchar and Jennifer Ellis (University of the West of Scotland, Hamilton, UK) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


Moral panics relating to anti-social youth have accelerated in recent years, and there has been an increasing recognition that preventing problematic behaviour is more effective than sanctions once it occurs.

Drawing upon General Strain Theory, this paper explores the social pressures that might stimulate anti-social behaviour and gang culture. It explores the impact of schools/youth work partnerships, focusing upon empirical data arising from a small-scale educational intervention involving vulnerable young people (aged 11–12) in Glasgow.

The findings illustrate that the 35 young people who participated in the initiative gained an increase in social capital, changed their reactions to social strains and demonstrated a change in their self-reported participation in anti-social behaviour.

However, the participants continued to view teachers and youth workers as two distinct groups with differing ideologies, and a collaborative ‘border-crossing’ pedagogy was never fully realised.

The paper draws upon the insights to identify future implications for policy, practice and research.

The degradation of work and the end of the skilled emotion worker at Aer Lingus: is it all trolley dollies now?

an article by Caitriona Curley and Tony Royle (National University of Ireland Galway) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 27 Number 1 (February 2013)


The article focuses on emotional labour and self-identity at the Irish-owned Aer Lingus airline from 1998 to 2008.

It has been suggested that emotional labour is likely to be an increasingly important feature of front-line service jobs. However, in this case management has reduced the level of emotional labour requirement while work organisation, recruitment policy and training have changed to focus on sales and lower labour costs, intensifying workloads and reducing cabin crew autonomy.

Although some may suggest that a reduction in emotional labour requirement would be a positive outcome for employees, this is not how it has been perceived by some cabin crew. Long-serving cabin crew in particular see these changes as an attack on their professionalism and a challenge to their identity as skilled emotion workers.

Knowing what we are talking about: why evidence doesn't always travel

an article by Nancy Cartwright (Durham University, UK) published in Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice Volume 9 Number 1 (January 2013 )


When is a well-established study result that a given policy/programme/treatment produced a given outcome in a particular study setting ('there') evidence that that policy/programme/treatment will produce that outcome in a new setting ('here')?

This paper insists that 'there' and 'here' be firmly distinguished and offers in answer that we must have evidence that two further facts obtain:
  1. that the policy can play the same causal role widely (widely enough to cover both here and there) and
  2. that a complete set of the support factors necessary for the policy to operate here are present in some individuals here.
Full text (PDF 16pp)

Recent Statutory Instruments –

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness Service by sally

Another list from which only one item is, in my opinion, relevant to my readers.

The Benefit Cap (Housing Benefit) (Amendment) Regulations 2013


Recent Statutory Instruments –

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness Service

Only one that I think might interest readers from 15 March

The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Regulations 2013


Sunday, 17 March 2013

OK, this is the Saturday offering and I will be back later with the Sunday one

Lil Swingers: 1905
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Lil Swingers: 1905
Detroit circa 1905
“Children’s Day, Belle Isle Park”
8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate The American character was forged by barbarism, torture, murder, and massacre. Bernard Bailyn is ankle-deep in the bloody details ... more

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Two cheers for paternalism. We are too fat, too in debt, and too terrible at planning for the future to avoid rethinking Mill’s harm principle... more

The Saturday Books
via Pages & Proofs by Richard Davies

The Saturday Book was an annual miscellany that featured art, literature and comment on British life during World War II and the decades that followed until 1975. The series was initially edited by Leonard Russell with John Hadfield taking over the reins in 1952.
Continue reading – and get a fascinating glimpse into life before many of you were born!

Classic books you should actually read
via Pages & Proofs by Richard Davies
Our latest video is a good one. My colleague Beth (check out her swan-themed dress) talks about the classic books you should actually read. I’ve ploughed my way through Moby-Dick and it was indeed a very tough book to read, the language was particularly challenging. I finished it though.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The American character was forged by barbarism, torture, murder, and massacre. Bernard Bailyn is ankle-deep in the bloody details ... more

Dolphins call to one another by name
via Boing Boing by Jason Weisberger

Discovery shares the findings. “The researchers said dolphins copy the signature whistles of loved ones, such as a mother or close male buddy, when the two are apart. These ‘names’ were never emitted in aggressive or antagonistic situations and were only directed toward loved ones.”

Crows have fun on snow-covered car
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

I watched this full-screen and loved it – the shades of grey, the falling snow, the playful crows. Thank you to the person who captured this on video!
(Via Arbroath)

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Progress and poverty. The ideal of having enough – being comfortable – used to hold sway, along with a belief that wealth increased poverty. No more... more... more...

A gravity map of the Moon
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker

Gravity isn’t uniform. Denser planets and objects in space – that is, things with more mass to them – experience a stronger pull of gravity. But even if you zoom in to the level of a single planet (or, in this case, our Moon), gravity isn’t uniform all the way around. That’s because the mass of the Moon isn’t uniform, either. It varies, along with the topography. In some places, the Moon’s crust is thicker. Those places have more mass, and thus, more gravitational pull.
This map, showing changes in density and gravity across the surface of the Moon, was made from data collected by Ebb and Flow – a matched set of NASA probes that mapped the Moon’s gravitational field before being intentionally crashed on its surface last December. By measuring the gravitational field, these probes told us a lot about how the density of the Moon varies which, in turn, tells us a lot about topography. You can read more about the probes (and see some videos they took of the lunar surface) at the NASA Visualization Explorer.

Abbott & Costello’s classic “who's on first?” routine wonderfully retold in a children’s book
via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder

Read all about it here

This was the Friday selection of nonsense for this weekend. I am trying, very!

Skyline: 1901
via Shorpy Historical Photo Archive – Vintage Fine Art Prints by Dave
Skyline: 1901
New York circa 1901
“Manhattan sky-line from North River” i.e. the Hudson River
8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company
View original post

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
When did “bureaucracy” become a dirty word? Once it stood for the end of privilege and the rise of merit and rights. What went wrong?... more

How to Sharpen Pencils and more odd book titles
via Pages & Proofs by Richard Davies
The Bookseller magazine has announced its short-list for the annual oddest book title of the year, the Diagram Prize. As always, there are some wonderful contenders.
Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley
God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis by Tom Hickman
How Tea Cosies Changed the World by Loani Prior
How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees
Lofts of North America: Pigeon Lofts by Jerry Gagne
Was Hitler Ill? by Hans-Joachim Neumann and Henrik Eberle
Continue reading

A brief history of space monkeys and spies
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
In the late 1950s, American scientists very publicly readied a crew of monkeys for a series of trips into Earth orbit and back. As far as the researchers knew, Project Discoverer was an actual, honest-to-Ike peaceful scientific program. Naturally, they were wrong about that. In reality, their work was part of an elaborate cover-up masking a spy satellite program. At The Primate Diaries, Eric Michael Johnson reports on some fascinating space history.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Hair-bobbing, heart-breaking Edna St. Vincent Millay conquered Greenwich Village with her looks and lyrics. The greatest female poet since Sappho?... more

The (true) legend of Stagolee
via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
The story of a deadly bar fight between a guy named Billy and a guy named Stagolee (or Stack Lee, or Stagger Lee) has worked its way into a broad swath of 20th-century music – from the blues of 1930s Southern prisoners, to Duke Ellington, to James Brown, to the Grateful Dead. At Davey D’s Hip Hop History 101, Cecil Brown traces the true story behind the legend back to the red light district of St. Louis in 1895.
And real hot political stuff it is too!

400 Years: a game where you strategically wait in order to overcome obstacles
via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
400 years is an adorable and clever browser-game where you play a kind of ambulatory stone pellet on a quest, wherein you overcome obstacles by holding down the space bar to make the seasons fly past and the years go by, while a tree grows tall enough to climb, or winter arrives and freezes a pond so you can cross it.
But don’t hold the space bar too much – you've only got 400 years to get through the game!
Play 400 years, a FREE online game on Jay is Games (via Waxy)
Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Gunther von Hagens, the man behind “Body Worlds”, now finds that his own body is failing him. Dr. Death contemplates his own mortality... more

Late 1950s : The Bee Gees
via Retronaut by Chris Wild

Is This the Missing Half of the Most Controversial Painting Ever?
via Big Think by Bob Duggan
If any painting could be labelled “not safe for work”, it’s Gustave Courbet’s 1866 L’Origine du monde (in English, The Origin of the World; and, once again, NSFW). Banned even from Facebook, proving that prudery’s alive and well in the 21st century, Courbet’s graphically realistic painting of a woman’s nude torso went unseen by the public until 1988 and didn’t enter a museum collection until the Musée d'Orsay accepted it 7 years later.
Continue reading

Friday, 15 March 2013

Rapid evidence assessments of research to inform social policy: taking stock and moving forward

an article by James Thomas, Mark Newman and Sandy Oliver (Institute of Education, University of London, UK) published in Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice Volume 9 Number 1 (January 2013)


There is a tension between conducting comprehensive systematic reviews and completing them in time to meet policy-making deadlines. The “rapid evidence assessment” has been proposed as a solution to this; offering rigorous reviews in a condensed timescale.

While used frequently in healthcare, this mode of reviewing presents considerable challenges in social policy.

We describe some potential problems and suggest reviewing strategies that can overcome some of them. There are situations, however, in which it may not be feasible to embark on a rapid review, and caution should be exercised when selecting this method.

Full text (PDF 22pp)

Job loss and its aftermath among managers and professionals: wounded, fragmented and flexible

an article by Yiannis Gabriel (University of Bath, UK) and David E Gray and Harshita Goregaokar (University of Surrey, UK) published in Work Employment Society Volume 27 Number 1 (February 2013)


Based on longitudinal fieldwork with unemployed managers and professionals in their 50s, the article examines the meaning of job loss to these people and charts their subsequent efforts to restore their lives.

The article identifies core similarities in their experiences and discerns different narrative strategies through which they have tried to make sense of their dismissal and sustain their selfhood.

For all, job loss was a considerable trauma leading to a fragmentation of identity; this was compounded by subsequent rejection and perceived discrimination. Few were able to resume their earlier careers; the majority had to adjust their expectations downwards and opt for either virtual deskilling in less well paid and less demanding jobs or for an assortment of part-time, casual and voluntary work.

Best ‘adapted’ (and least fragmented) were those who were prepared to forsake hopes of a return to high-powered jobs and display flexibility, resourcefulness and opportunism in adapting to their reduced circumstances.

Will raising the participation age in England solve the NEET problem?

an article by Sue Maguire (University of Warwick, Coventry, UK) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


This paper considers the rationale for introducing the raising of the participation age (RPA) in learning in England from 2013 and assesses how, if fully implemented, it could contribute to improving the outcomes for young people who do not participate in any form of post-16 education, employment or training, and are currently defined as not in education, employment or training (NEET).

It considers previous experience of extending young people’s participation in learning, both in the UK and overseas, and draws on evidence from the author’s research on a recent policy initiative targeted at the NEET group.

The piloting of activity agreements explored the value of offering a financial incentive, tailored learning and intensive support as mechanisms to re-engage young people in post-16 education, employment or training.

Faced by a lack of enforcement; the necessary levels of investment in support mechanisms to engage with young people and to sustain their participation in learning; and innovative approaches to post-16 learning, the article concludes that the RPA will, in effect, be allowed to ‘wither on the vine’.

Can Lifelong Learning Reshape Life Chances?

an article by Karen Evans and Ingrid Schoon (Institute of Education, University of London) and Martin Weale (National Institute of Economic and Social Research) published in British Journal of Educational Studies Volume 61 Issue 1 (2013)


Despite the expansion of post-school education and incentives to participate in lifelong learning, institutions and labour markets continue to interlock in shaping life chances according to starting social position, family and private resources.

The dominant view that the economic and social returns to public investment in adult learning are too low to warrant large-scale public funding has been challenged by recent LLAKES research that shows significant returns to participants in lifelong learning with improvements in both their employability and employment prospects.

It is argued that, under conditions of growing social polarisation and economic uncertainty, lifelong learning can have a significant protective effect by keeping adults close to a changing labour market. In this paper we review research from different disciplinary and epistemological traditions, providing evidence of the beneficial effects of lifelong learning, especially when taking into account the dynamics of the life course.

Transitions and turning-points in youth and in adult life are markers of diversification of the life course; how far these diversifications amount to ‘de-standardisation’ of the life course is debated. They involve biographical negotiation, in which any decision is consequential upon previous decisions and involves the exercise of contextualised preferences as well as the calculations of ‘rational choice’.

Gaining a better understanding of how changing demands are negotiated at different life stages offers a new perspective, moving from narrow versions of rational choice theory towards models of biographical negotiation as promising avenues for effective policy-making.

A million more families below the breadline by 2015

via ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC by Rob Holdsworth

Infographic showing how austerity policies and slow wage growth will result in more families struggling to make ends meet by 2015.

The TUC has done lots of research on the impact of the government’s welfare reforms and benefit cuts on ordinary families. Every year, we update our tax credit calculator to show the impact of benefit changes on family incomes.

We’ve also looked at the cost of wages failing to keep up with the rest of rising cost of living. We recently found that a worker on an average salary of £26,000 has already lost £4,000 since 2009 as result of falling real wages.

Continue reading

Early-career outcomes and gender: can educational interventions make a difference?

an article by Nan S. Langowitz, I. Elaine Allen and Mary Godwyn (Babson College, Massachusetts, USA) published in Gender in Management: An International Journal Volume 28 Issue 2 (2013)


Extant research studies document gender differences in career outcomes for middle and advanced career stages. The purpose of this study is to examine potential gender differences in early-career success with a particular focus on whether educational intervention might mediate any potential differences.

Survey data for recent business college alumni were analysed using descriptive techniques, linear regression and logistic modelling; the response rate was 25 percent and all data were self-reported. Both objective and subjective measures were used to assess outcomes. A priori, given similar educational training and expectations for managerial careers, we should expect to find similar early-career progress regardless of gender.

Differences are apparent out of the starting gate for women in early-career stages compared with their male counterparts, by both objective and subjective measures. Results also suggest an opportunity to improve outcomes through educational interventions. Limitations of the findings include the use of self-reported data and a modest response rate.

Practical implications
The findings of this study highlight the importance that integrated leadership development programs may play in supporting women’s early-career success and the need to advise young women to negotiate more assertively for salary and leadership opportunity at the immediate start of their careers. For educational institutions, the findings suggest that concerted focus on support for women students’ development may enhance their early-career outcomes.

By focusing on early-career outcomes, the paper seeks to contribute to the gender and careers literature by highlighting results that may set up the patterns seen among women in mid-career and senior level managerial careers. In addition, the paper demonstrates the educational interventions may be of value in reducing the impact of stereotype threat on women's career outcomes.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Our ambitions for apprentices mean we need better IAG

via by Tom Wilson (director of UnionLearn)

David Cameron is quite right in his ambition to see apprenticeships become “the new norm” for school leavers who don’t go to university. This was echoed by Labour’s Lord Adonis at unionlearn’s Valuing Apprentices conference. He said “There is not a single more important challenge than the transformation of apprenticeships. There should – at the age of 18 or 19 – be as many good quality apprenticeship places on offer as there are university places.” It is clear this ambition has cross-party support. Apprenticeships are an idea whose time has come again.

Continue reading

Responding to change in Jobcentres

This report from the National Audit Office did not quite have me foaming at the mouth but very nearly.

OK, so maybe I was already in a grumpy mood this morning but …

First, it took me ages to find the actual document having seen a short report about it in another publication; then it insisted that it would only load in Adobe Reader not my preferred Foxit and to finish me off it does not allow simple copy and paste to bring you the highlights.

Moan over!

It’s here and is actually worth reading.

Gender Dimension of the Labour Markets over the Past Two Decades

a NEUJOBS Working Paper, Number D16.1 published in February 2013


Position of females on the European labour market has improved strongly over the past two decades.

Changes in women’s employment were not only positive, but also managed to alleviate the negative developments in male employment rates, becoming thus a major driving force behind the efforts to achieve Lisbon’s employment goals. Yet, the observed changes were quite heterogeneous across countries and age groups.

In particular, the process of female employment rates’ convergence was slow, as countries with worse initial conditions achieved only slightly higher increases in women’s employment rates. Older cohorts of women contributed most to the employment improvements, changes were also positive among prime-aged women, while the youngest ones experienced declining employment rates in a great majority of countries.

A decomposition of the observed changes in female employment rates reveals that they were driven mostly by intensity improvements, i.e. pure “utilisation” of the labour among different cohorts of women. Increasing education levels played a relatively small role for the overall employment growth, while demography – though important for shifting the significance of particular age groups in the total workforce – had altogether virtually no effect for the overall female employment growth.

The reviewed country studies suggest that the major policies driving increasing intensity of female employment were concentrated in two areas: retirement policies and those regarding flexible employment arrangements. Limiting access to early retirement schemes and increasing female statutory retirement age prolonged women’s labour market participation, and, in consequence, translated to increases in their employment rates.

Reforms that aimed at introducing more flexibility into job contracts legislation, leading to more part-time and/or more fixed-term jobs, also appear to contribute positively to female employment rates, though the quality of these jobs remains a concern.

Full text (PDF 44pp)

A Short Form of the Career Futures Inventory

an article by Peter McIlveen, Lorelle J. Burton and Gavin Beccaria (University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba, Australia) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 21 Number 1 (February 2013)


The purpose of this study was to test the international transferability and structural validity of the Career Futures Inventory (CFI) in a sample of Australian university students (N = 1,566).

Exploratory factor analysis of the data from a random half-split of the sample supported a three-factor solution equivalent to the original CFI subscales, Career Optimism, Career Adaptability, and Perceived Knowledge.

Confirmatory factor analysis of the data from the remaining random half-split supported the structural validity of a short form, the CFI-9.

The subscales of the CFI-9 had acceptable internal consistencies and correlations with measures of academic major satisfaction, career choice satisfaction, and generalised self-efficacy.

It was concluded that the properties of the CFI and the CFI-9 were sufficient to explore their application as measures of perceptions of employability. It was suggested that the CFI-9 has potential as a diagnostic screening tool for counselling and educational interventions.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Seeking an end to discrimination for working parents

via The Work Founation News by Karen Steadman

Reports over the weekend about the extent of discrimination facing women who return to work after taking maternity leave, highlight a continuing issue in the UK both in terms of equality and the economy.

Results from a poll of a thousand working women across the UK indicated that one in seven had lost their job while on maternity leave. Forty per cent reported that their jobs had changed by the time they returned, with half reporting a cut in hours or demotion. More than a tenth had been replaced in their jobs by the person who had covered their maternity leave.

Continue reading

Techniques to tackle the workplace bully: Understanding the psychology and c...

an article by Catherine Sandler (Managing Director of Sandler Consulting, London, UK) published in Human Resource Management International Digest Volume 21 Issue 2 (2013)


The purpose of the paper is to explore the psychology behind one of the most common forms of bullying and to suggest how it can best be addressed.

The paper draws on the author’s first-hand experience of working in this area.

The paper identifies two main types of bully: the psychopathic and the explosive. It describes the former as entirely focused on their own interests, lacking integrity and an internal moral compass or the capacity to empathize. They persistently distort reality to serve their own ends. Their behaviour is highly manipulative, ranging from charmingly charismatic to ruthlessly aggressive. Explosive bullies, meanwhile, are characterised by low emotional intelligence and poor self-control. Task-focused and driven, easily overwhelmed by their emotions when stressed, they lack the capacity to manage their feelings and lash out at others.

Practical implications
The paper claims that, by understanding what drives bullying, an organisation can tackle the problem effectively and avoid the high costs that can be associated with this challenging problem.

Social implications
The paper hints that there can be positive results for society as a whole from tackling bullying behaviour.

The paper takes a psychological and coaching approach to bullying behaviour.

Life Without Work: Understanding Social Class Changes and Unemployment Through Theoretical Integration

an article by Saba Rasheed Ali, Kevin Fall and Tina Hoffman (University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA) published in Journal of Career Assessment Volume 21 Number 1 (February 2013)


Unemployment is a stark reality in today’s economic climate, and many Americans report a fear of loss or decrease in social status as a result of unexpected unemployment.

Despite vocational psychology’s emphasis on work as a domain of life, very little exploration on how social class shifts impact workers has been conducted.

One way to rectify the current gaps in the literature is to consider the integration of multiple theories that address different aspects of social class identity and the role of work in people’s lives.

Intersectional approaches, the Social Class Worldview Model, and the Psychology Working perspectives are discussed in this article as applicable to life without work, particularly in relation to unemployment among under-served populations. Multidisciplinary literature is highlighted and integrated to inform the current understanding of these problems.

Implications for psychologists and career counsellors conducting research, practice, and public policy are discussed.

Underreporting of earnings and the minimum wage spike

an article by Mirco Tonin (University of Southampton, UK; Central European University, Budapest, Hungary; and IZA, Bonn, Germany) published in IZA Journal of European Labor Studies Volume 2 Number 2 (2013)


This paper contributes to the policy debate on minimum wage by highlighting its role in enforcing compliance with fiscal rules in economies where under-reporting of earnings is widespread.

First, I propose a simple model exploring the interaction between the minimum wage and under-reporting of earnings.

Then, I provide supportive evidence by documenting a positive correlation within European labour markets between the proportion of full-time employees with earnings on the minimum wage and the extent of under-reporting of earnings in the economy.

The analysis presented in this paper suggests that a high spike in the wage distribution at the minimum wage level is, in some contexts, a fiscal issue, more than a labour market issue, and therefore it would be incorrect to consider a high spike as an indication of a binding minimum wage.

Also, differentiating the minimum wage along dimensions related to earnings (e.g. education, sector, or occupation) makes sense from an enforcement perspective.

JEL classification: J38, H26

Full text (PDF 18pp)

Lifetime inequality and redistribution

a research paper by Mike Brewer (Institute for Social and Economic Research and Institute for Fiscal Studies), Monica Costa Dias (Institute for Fiscal Studies, Centre for Economics and Finance at the University of Porto, and IZA) and Jonathan Shaw (Institute for Fiscal Studies

Published by Institute for Fiscal Studies in October 2012 [I must have missed it at the time but it’s definitely worth reading]


In this paper we look at lifetime inequality to address two main questions:
  • How well does a modern tax system, based on annual information, target lifetime inequality?
  • What aspects of the transfer system are most progressive from a lifetime perspective?
To answer to these questions it is crucial to relate lifetime and annual inequality and determine the main building blocks of lifetime disparities.

We look at lifetime inequality and the redistribution properties of taxes and benefits using a dynamic life-cycle model of women’s education, labour supply and savings with family dynamics and rich individual heterogeneity in preferences and productivity.

The model is coupled with a detailed description of the UK personal tax and benefit system and is estimated on UK longitudinal data covering the 1990s and early 2000s.

We show that the tax and benefits system is more redistributive from an annual than from a lifetime perspective, and is most progressive at the bottom of the income distribution in both cases.

We then establish that heterogeneity in family experiences throughout adult life is the main vehicle through which the tax and benefits system moderates lifetime inequality. Although transitory, family conditions under which working is especially costly, such as lone-motherhood, are especially prevalent among the lifetime poor. By targeting this group, particularly using policies specifically designed to improve the work incentives of those with the lowest earnings capacity, the tax and benefits system does achieve life-cycle redistribution. Other policies like universal benefits towards family with children are less well targeted towards the lifetime poor but are more progressive and improve the work incentives in the middle 60% of the distribution of lifetime income.

JEL codes: H23, H24, I24, I38, J22, J24,

Full text (PDF 50pp)

Wages: Where is Britain in the Global Race?

via ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC by Duncan Weldon

Infographic showing real wage growth in comparison to other G7 nations

International Labour Organisation data shows that over the course of 2007-2011 British workers suffered the largest falls in real wages (wages after taking into account price rises) of any G7 economy. Whilst workers in many countries saw their real terms pay rise, real wages fell heavily in the UK adding to an unprecedented squeeze in living standards.

View a larger version of the infographic here

Global Race: Part of the Global Race series; looking at Britain's economic growth in comparison to other major economies.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Mixed-Tenure Neighbourhoods in London: Policy Myth or Effective Device to Alleviate Deprivation?

an article by Sonia Arbaci (Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, UK) and Ian Rae (London Borough of Redbridge, Ilford, UK) published in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Volume 37 Issue 2 (March 2013)


Social and tenure-mixing policies are recurrently deployed as a means to tackle urban deprivation and reduce social inequalities on both sides of the Atlantic, albeit without sound evidence, with policies often resulting in gentrification, social polarisation or dispersal towards peripheral areas.

This article explores whether housing-tenure diversification is a device for alleviating deprivation in terms of increasing socioeconomic opportunities (production) and access to resources (consumption), and empirically contributes to wider debates on inequality, segregation and neighbourhood effects.

Quantitative and qualitative longitudinal analyses examine the extent to which, in Greater London, there are greater opportunities and access to resources amongst social tenants in mixed-tenure neighbourhoods than amongst those in concentrations of social housing.

Changes in deprivation levels according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) are contrasted and unpacked, and correlations between tenure, ethnicity, income, location, neighbourhood affordability and deprivation are investigated.

The research demonstrates that social tenants do experience differing opportunities and access to resources, but these are not dependent on, or improved by, the level of tenure mix within the neighbourhood.

Instead, integration of area-based and people-based policy, as well as decommodified access to welfare services (such as education, training and employment opportunities), is crucial.

Furthermore, the IMD as an evidence base for policy formulation is contested and the neighbourhood effects are challenged.

Never give up? The persistence of welfare participation in Sweden

an article by Thomas Andrén (The Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations and IZA, Sweden ) and Daniela Andrén (Örebro University School of Business and CELSI, Sweden) published in IZA Journal of European Labor Studies Volume 2 Number 1 (2013)


Long-term social assistance dependency is a growing concern in Sweden and other European countries.

In order for policy makers to design effective welfare reforms it is important to know how strong the state dependence associated with social assistance is in the population and to what extent it varies with different factors, and among different groups.

We estimate the effect of the state dependence in social assistance for Sweden during the 1990s, for both Swedish-born and foreign-born.

Using a dynamic discrete choice model that controls for unobserved heterogeneity and the initial conditions problem, we found that the effect is three times larger for foreign-born compared to Swedish-born.

However, when the effect is distributed over time, it decreases and loses significance after three years for both groups.

This suggests that resources should be allocated for programmes that connect working-age recipients with the labour market as early as possible.

JEL classification: I30, I38, J18

Full text (PDF 24pp)

Hazel’s comment:
Deep sigh! Back in the 1970s employment advisers were very well aware that the best, i.e. most effective from everybody’s viewpoint, time to get an unemployed person into another job was within four to six weeks of unemployment commencing. Where did the government pour most of its money? Into helping the long-term unemployed.

Very suppressed rude words going through my head because the flippin’ government of whichever political complexion has been doing it ever since!!!

Sizing the UK ‘Jobs Gap’

via Resolution Foundation Publications

The UK is more than 800,000 jobs short of the amount it would need to restore employment rates to those seen before the recession, a study from independent think tank the Resolution Foundation has found.

While the number of people in employment had climbed by 160,000 since 2008 to nearly 30 million, this positive news has masked the fact that the country’s adult population has grown faster over the same period – by 1.7 million.

Full text of the briefing paper by James Plunkett (PDF 14pp)

Building on models of information behaviour: linking information seeking and communication

an article by Andrew Robson and Lyn Robinson (City University London, UK) published in Journal of Documentation Volume 69 Issue 2 (2013)


This paper aims to gain insights from existing models of information behaviour, building on them to develop a new model which, unlike most others, encompasses both information seeking and communication. By identifying key factors affecting the successful communication and use of information, it is hoped that the model will be of practical value both to information providers and to users.

The paper is based on a literature search and analysis of well-established models of information seeking and of communication, from which a new conceptual model is constructed.

Existing models have elements in common, though most models in library and information science focus on information seeking and the information user, while those from the field of communications focus on the communicator and the communication process. A new model is proposed that includes key elements of existing models and takes into account not just the information seeker but also the communicator or information provider.

The model developed in this paper is the first to combine elements from both information seeking and communication models. Being built on previous research, it can be used to investigate the practical value of the model itself and the elements that it has in common with other models.

Recent Statutory Instruments (only one I think may be of interest this time)

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness Service

The Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment, Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2013


Recent Statutory Instruments which may be of interest

via Inner Temple Library Current Awareness Service

The Council Tax Benefit Abolition (Consequential Provision) Regulations 2013

The Social Security (Information-sharing in relation to Welfare Services etc.) Amendment and Prescribed Bodies Regulations 2013

The Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) (Amendment) Regulations 2013

The Social Security (Claims and Payments) Amendment Regulations 2013


An independent review of British health and safety regulation? From common sense to non-sense

an article by Phil James (Oxford Brookes University, UK), Steve Tombs (Liverpool John Moores University, UK) and David Whyte (University of Liverpool, UK) published in Policy Studies Volume 34 Issue 1 (2013)


The view that regulatory provisions protecting the employment conditions of workers need to be minimised in order to protect the business needs of employers has been an ongoing theme in British governmental policy discourse over the past three decades.

For the present Coalition government, the assumption that current levels of regulation are unduly burdensome on employers and hence harmful to the economy has continued to be enthusiastically voiced, most notably in respect of the regulation of workplace health and safety.

Against this backcloth, this paper develops a critical examination of the conclusions of an ‘independent’ review of health and safety regulations commissioned by the present UK Government to shed light on the way in which a deregulatory policy agenda is being furthered.

The paper commences by locating the recent review of health and safety regulations, the ‘Löfstedt review’, in the context of other recent government initiatives aimed at alleviating the burden of health and safety regulation from the shoulders of employers.

It then moves on to outline the nature of this review and its main conclusions and recommendations, before considering in turn its use of evidence, deployment of the notion of ‘low risk’ and lack of attention to the issue of enforcement.

Finally, a concluding section draws together the key points to emerge from the preceding analysis and highlights how the Löfstedt review can be seen to form an integral part of a misleading deregulatory discourse that threatens to engender the wholesale undermining of workplace health and safety protections.

The Impact of Distance to Nearest Education Institution on the Post-compulsory Education Participation Decision

an article by Andy Dickerson and Steven McIntosh (University of Sheffield, UK) published in Urban Studies Volume 50 Number 4 (March 2013)


This paper uses data sources from England with the unique capacity to measure distances between home addresses and education institutions, to investigate, for the first time, the effect that such distance has on an individual’s post-compulsory education participation decision.

The results show that there is a small overall effect.

However, when attention is focused on young people who are on the margin of participating in post-compulsory education (according to their prior attainment and family background) and when post-compulsory education is distinguished by whether it leads to academic or vocational qualifications, then greater distance to nearest education institution is seen to have a significant impact on the decision to continue in full–time post-compulsory education.

And I suppose we could have deduced this but it feels good to have it confirmed.

Education and the reconstitution of social class in England

an article by Patrick Ainley (University of Greenwich, London, UK) published in Research in Post-Compulsory Education Volume 18 Issue 1-2 (2013)


This paper extends the work of Gamble, who followed Marx in seeing a reconstitution of the reserve army of labour as a key function of capitalist crisis, but it suggests a wider class reformation that includes what can be called the middle-working / working-middle class.

Education and training to all levels are deeply implicated in this class reformation, not only by relegating an unskilled section of the previously manually working class to worthless vocational certification at one end, but in cramming for academic qualifications to ‘restart social mobility’ at the other.

The riots of summer 2011 are seen as a crystallisation of this new class formation, which goes further than during economic crisis in the 1970s manifested in what Finn called ‘training without jobs’ to be succeeded by what Ainley and Allen called ‘education without jobs’.

Delusionary efforts to ‘educate our way out of economic crisis’ are questioned in relation to ‘education’s credibility crunch’ since there is no ‘new correspondence’ between education and the economy so that the main remaining ‘function’ of institutionalised education and training is increasingly one of social control.

Education must therefore regain its purpose of critically learning from the past to meet the crisis of the present.

Beneath the ‘Digital Native’ myth: Understanding young Australians’ online time use

an article by Jonathan Smith, Zlatko Skrbis and Mark Western (The University of Queensland, Australia) published in Journal of Sociology Volume 49 Number 1 (March 2013)


As young people’s internet use shapes their experiences of education, work and personal relationships, their portrayal as ‘Digital Natives’ suggests that they are invariably better positioned than preceding generations to capitalise on such changes.

Recent debates in internet use research undermine this view.

While acknowledging socio-demographic differences in use, theorists disagree as to whether these reflect disparities in internet access, processes of social stratification, or users’ rational assessment of risks and opportunities.

Incorporating these views, this article develops a framework for investigating differences in academic and social internet use by using data from 6,444 high school students in Queensland, Australia.

The results show that different factors structure students’ entry into these use pathways. Since social use depends on one’s home access context, remote students with poorer access spent less time on this activity, whereas students at independent and Catholic schools were heavier academic users, because they possessed the requisite academic orientation.