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Welfare Reform on the Web (November 2010): Education - UK - training

Moving beyond skills as a social and economic panacea

E. Keep and K. Mayhew

Work, Employment and Society, vol. 24, 2010, p. 565-577

This article examines two inter-related UK tendencies: 1) for skills policies to displace other measures to promote prosperity and social justice and 2) for current skills policies to give rise to narrowly defined interventions that are frequently incommensurate with the scale of the problems they purport to tackle. In particular, this article stresses the danger that skills policy is being used to close off consideration of other approaches to addressing social and economic problems, such as stronger social partnership, more active economic development and redistributive policies.

Skill: the solution to low wage work?

C. Lloyd and K. Mayhew

Industrial Relations Journal, vol. 41, 2010, p. 429-445

The Labour governments that were in power between 1997 and 2010 sought to eliminate low pay by upskilling workers without level 2 qualifications. This approach was founded on the assumption that low skilled jobs were becoming fewer, that employers would invest in workers with a level 2 qualification, and that higher wages would follow. However, the research outlined in this article confirms that the economy still requires those who clean, service and sell, and that qualifications are not required for these jobs. Employers are uninterested in training these workers as it is cheaper to hire staff externally for higher level jobs requiring level 3/4 qualifications.

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