Centre for Progressive Policy
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?
- Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy, University of Cambridge
- Anna Thomas, co-founder and Director, Institute for the Future of Work
- Martin Vander Weyer, Business Editor of the Spectator
- Charlotte Alldritt, Director, Centre for Progressive Policy (Chair)