Friday, 28 February 2014

Condition of Britain briefing 2: Growing up and becoming an adult

an IPPR paper by Kayte Lawton (published November 2013)

This second briefing paper to be published as part of IPPR’ s Condition of Britain programme focusses on young people in their teens and early twenties. This phase of life has become, for many, more difficult and insecure in recent decades, and in this paper we consider the societal shifts that have made today’s young people less able to rely on support from stable families, clear routes into work, and opportunities to put down roots by buying a home of their own.

While Britain’s young people are, on the whole, optimistic, resourceful and ambitious, their path to adulthood has grown both longer and more insecure. Changes in family life have made it more difficult for young people to develop the character and emotional resilience they need to become happy and productive adults. The labour market and the education and benefits systems are failing a large number of young people who need more meaningful qualifications and greater assistance with securing decent jobs. What’s more, all young people deserve to benefit from a sustainable and affordable homeownership, and a better and more secure rental market.

Among the questions this paper asks are:

  1. How can we strengthen local institutions that are capable of developing young people’s character, maturity and resilience?
  2. How can we reform our benefits, job support and training to make sure every young person is learning or earning, and establish stable and coherent vocational options for those not pursuing an academic path?
  3. What would be sustainable means of helping young people to realise their aspirations to own their own homes?

Presenting evidence and testimonies from a variety of sources and stakeholders, and this briefing paper offers an overview of the issues facing Britain’s young people, and outlines how we need to rethink both what society expects of young people, and what young people should expect of society.

The five briefing papers in this series are brought together with a new introduction by Nick Pearce, Graeme Cooke and Kayte Lawton in the Condition of Britain interim report, published in December 2013.

Full text (PDF 14pp)

Matching worker skills to job tasks in the Netherlands: sorting into cities for better careers

an article by Suzanne Kok (University of Groningen, Netherlands and CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, The Hague) published in IZA Journal of European Labor Studies Volume 3 Number 2 (2014)


Matches between workers and jobs are better in thick labour markets than in thin ones. This paper measures match quality by the gap between worker skills and their job tasks in the Netherlands. The smaller the gap, the better the match between skills and tasks. The measured gaps are 14 percent of a standard deviation smaller in cities than in the Dutch countryside. The location of work explains the observed higher quality of matches, while the location of residence does not. Robustness analyses show that these results are not explained by more efficient learning in cities or the spatial distribution of industrial and service occupations. Higher matching quality is associated with higher wages and explains part of the urban wage premia.

JEL Codes: J24; J23; R12; R23

Full text:

Thursday, 27 February 2014


I've just come across a report from last year about women in positions of responsibility in the hospitality sector.

Research has shown that people tend to recruit and promote people like themselves. It's a case of familiarity – we like what we know. However, if, as is the case in the hospitality sector, only six per cent of all board positions are female, the likelihood of women progressing via the "like-promotes-like" mechanism is tiny. Bearing in mind that, across all UK industry sectors, only twelve per cent of board positions are taken by women, we can't rely on peer pressure to precipitate change either.

Sharon Glancy in Training Journal (April 2013)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Locality and localism: a view from British Human Geography

an article by Nick Clarke (affiliation(s) unknown) published in Policy Studies Volume 34 Issue 5-6 (2013)


This paper considers the political geography of localism and reviews the insights of geographers regarding localism and locality. It identifies three main approaches to locality in Human Geography.

  1. Regional geographers, humanistic geographers and spatial scientists view localities as relatively natural phenomena.
  2. Marxist and political-economic geographers view localities as social phenomena produced by uneven capitalist development.
  3. Post-structuralist geographers view localities as characteristically open, plural and dynamic.
The paper also distinguishes three sets of political localism to be found in human-geographical literatures.

  • First, localism describes seemingly natural ways of life – organised to maximise authentic experiences of place in the case of Humanistic Geography and to minimise the friction of distance in the case of spatial science.
  • Second, localism describes cultural-political expressions of spatial divisions of labour, including local political cultures, local proactivity in the context of large-scale economic restructuring, and actually existing, variegated, local neoliberalisations.
  • Third, localism describes struggles to produce locally scaled action, including projects of local autonomy and self-sufficiency directed against the central state, movements to defend collective consumption from developers, coalitions to defend fixed capital against devaluation, and state downscaling to regulate capitalism.
To illustrate their usefulness, some of these insights are applied to the localism agendas of recent British governments.

Greening the Net Generation: Outdoor Adult Learning in the Digital Age

an article by Pierre Walter (University of British Columbia) published in Adult Learning Volume 24 Issue 4 (November 2014)


Adult learning today takes place primarily within walled classrooms or in other indoor settings, and often in front of various types of digital screens. As adults have adopted the digital technologies and indoor lifestyle attributed to the so-called Net Generation, we have become detached from contact with the natural world outdoors. As a result, many of us are beginning to experience a variety of often debilitating physical, emotional, and mental health problems.

At the same time, recent adult education scholarship shows the benefits of restorative, natural experiences in the outdoors, their contribution to adult learning and positive effects on our emotional, physical, and mental health. This paper identifies two themes in outdoor learning for adults:
(a) cultural, spiritual, and transformative learning in natural settings and
(b) survival, group, and leadership learning in the wilderness.

It then offers suggestions for integrating digital technology into outdoor adult learning and offers conceptual parallels to thinking and activities in the digital world in relation to adult learning.