Better Work Conference 2019: Innovative approaches to promoting better work

Marking one year since the launch of the Better Work Network by Learning and Work Institute and Trust for London, the inaugural Better Work Conference brought together over 80 delegates from a wide range of stakeholders working to tackle low paid and poor-quality work. The conference provided a valuable opportunity to hear about some of the innovative projects being carried out by network members and to share best practice in the commissioning, design and delivery of initiatives to promote better work.

Chief executive of Learning and Work Institute, Stephen Evans, provides an overview of progress so far and what’s on the horizon for those working to achieve better work for all.

We were joined by the Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Debbie Weekes-Bernard. In her keynote address, she set out the GLA’s plan to tackle low-pay and poor conditions in the capital including the Mayor’s Good Work Standard.

The deputy mayor sets outs the plans from the Good Work Standard to the use of the newly devolved Adult Skills Budget to support people on low incomes to progress in work.

The keynote address was followed by engaging panel discussions with speakers from central and local government, civil society and business.

The first explored innovative approaches to in-work progression support featuring speakers from the DWP, Harrow Council, Step Up and the Walcot Foundation. Naomi Clayton, Deputy Director of Research and Development at Learning & Work chaired a wide-ranging discussion, identifying key lessons from the commissioning and delivery of in-work progression support.

Stephen Evans chaired a second panel which focused on how to effectively engage with employers to promote better work. He was joined by representatives from BEIS, the Living Wage Foundation, Timewise and the Federation of Small Businesses, who explored the role of employers in addressing poor quality work as well as strategies to encourage or support employers to change their practices.

Martha Crawford, senior project officer at the Living Wage Foundation explains how paying a living wage can help employees progress in work and introduces the Foundation’s new Living Hours Campaign.


To coincide with the conference we produced a suite of new resources for those involved in the commissioning or delivery of in-work progression support.

The Better Work Map

The Better Work Map is an open access resource, mapping UK initiatives which aim to tackle low paid and poor quality work. This includes employment support, adult education provision and any other initiatives which help workers to upskill, retrain or progress in work.

The purpose of the map is to help workers to find local support options and providers and stakeholders to identify other providers, learn from each other and share best practice. If you are aware of a relevant initiative or project, then please let us know by registering its details using our online form or responding to this email.

Commissioning Guide for In-Work Progression Support

Our new commissioning guide draws on lessons from previous initiatives to create an accessible resource for funders, commissioners and providers involved in the design and delivery of in-work progression support. The programmes reviewed focus on individual-led support and test different approaches with the aim of developing understanding of how best to support progression in work.

Step Up Evaluation

The Step Up Pilot was designed by Trust for London, the Walcot Foundation and Learning and Work Institute to trial new approaches to help low paid workers progress in their careers and move into better work.

The final report  provides further analysis of monitoring information, an impact assessment and cost benefit analysis as well as longitudinal research with Step Up participants to assess the pilot’s performance across its lifetime. It is accompanied by a report on job brokerage in in-work support initiatives.

ESF In-Work Progression Programme Evaluation

This report presents the findings of Learning and Work Institute’s evaluation of the European Social Fund (ESF) In-Work Progression Programme. The programme aimed to support low-paid workers to progress into better paid, more stable work through the provision of a tailored package of support.