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‘Lots of little jobs’ – building local skills ecosystems for the precarious worker

Jolliffe, P, Collins, H and Jolliffe, K (2021) ‘Lots of little jobs’ – building local skills ecosystems for the precarious worker. In: CIPD Applied Research . (Applied Research Conference, 21st January 2021, Online).

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‘The world needs a wash and a week’s rest,’ wrote W.H. Auden in his 1947 poem, The Age of Anxiety. Almost three-quarters of a century later, that is the reality for many whose fulltime work ideas have fragmented into several little short-term jobs, exacerbated by COVID19. The polarisation between those who enjoy security and prosperity and those who do not has increased (Allas et al 2020). Scholars have raised concerns over the impact on the (particularly marginalised) worker of the expansion of non-standard employment, poverty cycles, and lack of training and development (Egdell and Beck 2020), resulting in dualisation, the division between workers with stable jobs and insecure jobs (Chung 2018). By marginalised, we refer to workers who tend to be at the lower or outer edge of the labour market in uncertain, unpredictable, and risky work, from the worker’s perspective (Kalleberg 2012). We argue that in light of Brexit, increased poverty, and weak skills development, understanding and involvement by employers in their local ecosystem is even more imperative. A skills ecosystem is a community of interacting living parts comprising producers, consumers, and decomposers and non-living components that define the ecosystem’s environment.
We share the human resource development (HRD) interventions undertaken jointly by a university and a non-governmental organisation (NGO) between 2016 and 2019 within the City of Liverpool. The context of the research in a skills ecosystem is relevant. We worked with a local NGO based in Toxteth, Liverpool, a highly diverse area characterised by very high levels of multiple deprivation (McCurdy 2020). We found little research in HRD that has challenged the life chances of education and training (Simmons et al 2014) for those in the lower socio-economic groups or, indeed, been involved in offering solutions for those in this growing group of workers. We share our understanding of the lived experience of one of the most disadvantaged groups in the UK, the Roma (Cromarty 2019).
Virtually all of the Roma in this study were in irregular, insecure work with high work–labour ratios. This may infer the participants worked in small, less regulated environments; instead, many worked in FTSE 100 UK companies. Participants’ work was generally deemed independent (in contractual terms noted as self-employment) and organised through labour market intermediaries, commonly termed agencies, with evidence of some ‘abusive’ and ‘exploitative’ practice such as poor working conditions, rather than directly with an employer.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Divisions: Business & Management (from Sep 19)
Publisher: CiPD
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 28 Jun 2021 10:00
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2022 15:18
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15176
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