Centre for Progressive Policy


In-conversation with Dambisa Moyo.

One of the 100 most influential people in the world according to TIME Magazine, Dr. Dambisa Moyo is a best-selling author and economist. Her work is focussed on the future of economic growth and placing living standards at the backbone of human progress. According to Moyo, the world is facing threatening economic headwinds including income inequality, the growing risk of a jobless underclass as digitalisation takes hold, unsustainable global debt and demographics shifts. All of these challenges require tackling the economic structures of work, health and education. In her recent book ‘How Boards Work’, Moyo addresses the levers and limitations boards have to create change across the business landscape. She poses questions around their purpose, around how they should balance profit motives with growing broader expectations of society and how they should approach quotas as they look to address diversity.

Against the backdrop of a global drive for inclusive economic recovery from the pandemic, the challenges of transitioning to net zero, a rise of protectionism and new and emerging technologies, this event will consider how the future of capitalism will be shaped in the coming years and what role corporations should play when it comes to levelling up.

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Is the algorithm working for us?

The Centre for Progressive Policy talked to the former Chair of Ofqual, Roger Taylor, about what really happened during last year's exam debacle and what lessons we might draw on the future of algorithms, qualifications and fairness in education. Roger shared his thoughts publicly for the first time since stepping down from the regulator.In 2020 Covid closed 90 per cent of the world's schools. In the long list of harm caused by the pandemic, the disruption to the education of a generation may prove to be long lasting. One acute aspect of this was the difficulties countries faced in administering examinations. The UK and Ireland chose the unusual route of using co teacher assessments and predictions to estimate likely results. There was widespread agreement about the viability, even desirability, of the policy amongst education leaders before the event; and wholesale rejection by the people affected by it. There is much to learn from this.The episode has highlighted the tension between meritocracy and examinations. The Algorithm was rejected because it was intolerable that young people would have their futures determined by a prediction based on things such as which school they went to. Some were troubled by the extent to which some students would have done better than predicted. But others were equally troubled by the degree to which a child’s circumstances could account for how they would perform in exams. This year exams won’t be held because it would be unfair when children have had such different levels of access to education. But that leaves open the question of why they are fair in normal times, when pupils experience very different levels of educational support and the educational set backs that many children have suffered over the course of the pandemic will continue to affect them for years ahead.These events undermine public trust in the fairness of exams. Many employers have similar concerns, some of whom are turning away from exam grades as an indicator of employability and are instead using their own assessments which they claim give them a better understanding of their candidates and support more diverse hiring. In the past, the temptation for politicians has been to try to diffuse these tensions by degrading the quality of educational assessment, allowing grades to inflate or adopting untrustworthy forms of assessment. Rather than allowing this to happen, we need an approach that improves and expands the range of information that young people can use to demonstrate their skills.In this event, the former chair of Ofqual, Roger Taylor talked about fairness and quality in education and how the current system needs to change. Former Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield OBE and Chief Executive of the REC, Neil Carberry responded to the comments. The event was chaired by CPP's director Charlotte Alldritt.Key questions included: How can we create an education and assessment system that operates as a driver of social mobility? Or do we have unfair expectations about the degree to which education can tackle wider social and economic inequalities? How can the Department for Education ensure learning and assessment enhance children’s opportunities and bridge young people’s skills and potential with employers? In what ways can employers be further involved in these policies and in practice? How can we align the needs of measuring what a young person can do and assessing their potential whilst ensuring education standards? What is the role of data and digital technology in ensuring that robust assessment complements a meritocratic education system?Sign up here to receive invitations for future eventshttps://progressive-policy.us17.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=24e4a85116c5264bd2f871286&id=01d3d549a2

The post-pandemic labour market: How do we create more and better jobs?

The labour market that emerges from the crisis will be very different from before the pandemic struck. The high street has been gutted by successive lockdowns and the acceleration of online retail sales. Other consumer behaviours and preferences may well be changed permanently as people have grown used to doing without their daily barista coffee or salon haircut, or – more importantly – as households feel the pinch of lower wages, shorter hours or redundancy and can no longer afford to do so. The government has done its best to incentivise job retention over the last twelve months, but a real risk remains of a spike in joblessness once furlough ends. The Office for Budget Responsibility anticipates unemployment could hit 6.5% this year and while a large economic bounce back is expected as the vaccines take hold, the economy is likely be scarred by the impact of coronavirus for years to come. This will intensify pre-existing regional inequalities, making the task of levelling up all the harder and all the more critical.The government has remained outwardly committed to levelling up as the cornerstone of its domestic policy agenda. But the recent Budget was still largely focussed on emergency support to tie the UK economy and workforce into the autumn. Soon we will need a detailed and actionable plan for jobs which seeks to respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead, boost the demand for good jobs and increase the supply of qualified people through the skills system. All while work itself is changing, not least through an expected permanent increase in remote working and the impact this will have on the nature and distribution of jobs – both those that can be done at home, and those for whom an office, factory and other fixed work settings remain compulsory or essential.The event will consider key questions including:How can we build on the government’s current Plan for Jobs and Plan for Growth to deliver the good jobs of the future? How should we prioritise different industries as the engines of job creation? To what extent will green growth or other emerging sectors offer opportunities in this context? How do we avoid the rise of insecure work and underemployment similar to that experienced after 2008? How can we revamp the skills system to support those who have been out of work and need reskilling into new good jobs? What can local government do to drive forward good jobs in their area?PanellistsDiane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of CambridgeAnna Thomas, co-founder and Director, Institute for the Future of WorkMartin Vander Weyer, Business Editor of the SpectatorCharlotte Alldritt, Director, Centre for Progressive Policy (Chair)

In conversation with Tracy Brabin MP

On the 6th of May residents of West Yorkshire will vote for the first time for their regional mayor in an election that will have ramifications beyond the region. The newly elected candidate will oversee a devolution deal which will include an annual £38 million budget, new powers over transport, education and housing and regeneration, as well as control of the Adult Education Budget. It’s no surprise the deal is being pitched by government as evidence of further investment in the Northern Powerhouse and its ongoing commitment to levelling up.But at a time when inclusive economic recovery is critical, the first mayor of West Yorkshire will also carve a place on the national political landscape. The tensions between local and central government have become all too clear during the pandemic with mayors gaining increasing attention. An additional mayoralty will influence economic and social policy making beyond the region, as well as shaping the devolution debate and wider constitutional issues for years to come.After a longstanding career in the public eye, Tracy Brabin became the Labour Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen in 2016. Re-elected in 2017 and again in 2019, she is now running for Mayor of West Yorkshire and, if successful, would be the first elected female mayor of a combined authority in England. Ahead of May’s local, mayoral and Scottish Parliament elections we will discuss her vision for the future of the region and how the first mayor for West Yorkshire could catalyse inclusive economic recovery and growth.Key questions include:What challenges and opportunities are likely to arise for West Yorkshire over the next four years and how can they be addressed? How has the coronavirus pandemic changed the role of local and regional leaders in shaping and delivering economic growth? How can mayors influence the levelling up debate and shape the Northern Powerhouse? How can they incentivise investment in their region to solve inequality and drive forward inclusive growth? In which ways might West Yorkshire shape the future of further devolution in England? What does a transition from MP to mayor involve in practice and which role can make the bigger difference?The event was chaired by Zoë Billingham, Head of Policy and Engagement, Centre for Progressive Policy.