Tackling low pay, tackling the causes of low pay

28 June 2017

Learning and Work Institute is today calling for robust measures to strengthen people’s ability to move up the career ladder, in response the Social Mobility Commission’s damning verdict on social mobility policies over the last two decades.

Today’s report, Time for change: an assessment of government policies on social mobility 1997-2017, shows how, over the last twenty years, worklessness has been replaced by in-work poverty and, while the employment rate is the highest it has ever been, limited access to training and career progression means that only one in ten workers will escape low pay over a ten-year period.

Policy decisions and cuts in adult education budgets, under consecutive governments, have dramatically decreased education opportunities for working adults at a time when nine million adults have low level skills in basic literacy, numeracy or both; 12 million adults lack essential basic digital skills and when retraining and upskilling is essential for all of us as our working lives get longer.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said:

“Record high employment in this country is good news. Today’s report from the Social Mobility Commission is a stark reminder that the government’s next challenge is doing more to help people climb the career ladder by equipping people with the ability and opportunity to access the education and training they need. Lifelong learning would be good for social mobility and has inter-generational benefits; supporting adults to learn also improves the life chances of their children.

“Learning throughout life helps you earn more, live healthier and play a fuller role in society. A step change in participation in learning requires investment and doing things differently. Advanced Learner Loans are poorly marketed and inflexible; family learning, which improves educational attainment of children as well as parents, is neglected; and employment support programmes are under-resourced and poorly targeted.

“There is nothing inevitable about social mobility. The Commission’s report today warns of growing social and economic divides unless policy is improved.  Now is the time to tackle low pay and tackle the causes of low pay.”

Learning and Work Institute has set out measures that would help deliver a step change in participation in learning,