What is the What Works Unit?

The What Works Unit for Learning and Work aims to work collaboratively to champion the use and creation of evidence to inform decision-making and support lifelong learning, full employment and inclusion.

Our core activities include:

Understanding the challenge. We analyse key trends within the labour market to help policy makers and practitioners prioritise investment and design interventions. Our Labour Market and Skills dashboard summarises the latest available data.

Summarising the best available evidence. We gather and summarise high quality UK and international evidence for commissioners, policy makers and practitioners, and identify the gaps. Our evidence reviews cover a range of topics, from essential and life skills and among disadvantaged learners to for disabled people.

Supporting the use of evidence. We work with policy makers and practitioners across the UK to disseminate evidence through and hand-on support to organisations.

Generating new evidence on what works to improve employment and learning outcomes. We develop strategic partnerships to identify promising programmes, test new approaches and build evidence.


Evidence Reviews

Our reviews summarise the best available international evidence on what works in employment, learning and skills. We review the impact different interventions have had, look at what works for whom and explore why interventions work.

What works to support progression from low pay. This report reviews impact evaluations and implementation studies to identify effective approaches to increases in earnings or hours, better job security and greater flexibility.

Improving adult basic skills. This report identifies the most effective approaches to developing adult basic skills and, where possible, their cost-effectiveness. A number of interlinked issues are also considered within the context of delivering basic skills programmes.

Responding to local economic shocks. This report explores the national and international evidence on what works to support displaced workers back into work.

Improving attainment among disadvantaged students in the FE and adult learning sector: an evidence review. This report maps the evidence on what works to improve attainment and other related outcomes in FE and adult learning.

Employment support for people with disabilities and health conditions. This report reviews the evidence of what works to support people with mental and physical health conditions into employment.

What works to support 15 to 24-year olds at risk of becoming NEET? This report reviews early interventions that target key transition periods for young people who are considered ‘at risk’ of becoming NEET in the future.

Find all these evidence reviews in our resources

For further information about our What Works Unit or to talk to us about how you can get involved, contact our head of evidence, Fay Sadro.