Word Cloud
This week: older workers, soft skills, the digital economy, ‘Fit for Nuclear’ fund and Universities’ contributions to European Structural and Investment Funds. Last week’s Higher Education blog looked at the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.

The government is rolling out an ‘older workers’ champion scheme across every part of the UK – implementing fundamental reforms to fight ageism in the workplace. The older workers’ scheme aims to tackle age discrimination from April 2015. Indeed, recent reports suggest the attitudes of employers and individuals are shifting in favour of later life working. The DWP has published a report which explores attitudes amongst older people who are in work, self-employed and unemployed.

NIACE Chief Executive, David Hughes, responded: “Our Mid-life Career Review Pilot proved that this straightforward and cost-effective process can play an important role in helping older people stay in and get back into work. With almost twice as many vacancies for every new person entering the labour market over the next ten years, older people will need to fill that gap. And longer working lives mean more paid in tax and less in benefits.  It is critical, therefore that we recognise the talents of older people and the contribution that they can make to our workplaces and communities.”

A new publication from Cedefop draws attention to the mutual benefits to workers and organisations that arise when guidance is integrated in age management strategies. The Cedefop release, ‘Increasing the value of age’ also offers insights on how to develop guidance activities at the workplace.

New research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found half (49%) of rural small businesses are dissatisfied with the quality of their broadband provision. The data showed nearly double the level of dissatisfaction compared to urban small businesses (28% dissatisfied). Vince Cable recently called for digital transformation across Europe. Businesses and consumers across Europe are being let down by the “patchwork” approach to the digital economy, he said. This follows consultation of employers and educators of IT users, who were invited to feedback on the development of new National Occupational Standards (NOS) for IT Users. Two recent reports around the digital economy may be of interest, ‘Creative industries economic estimates – January 2015‘, a regular release from Gov.UK, and ‘Digital life in 2015′, looking at technology’s impact on workers’. Also, the latest blog post from UKTI comments on the Consumer Electronics Show – the world’s largest trade show in Las Vegas showcasing the world’s most innovative technologies.

The government is joining forces with leading UK automotive manufacturers to boost skills across the sector with £30 million of investment.  This comes as Skills for Logistics, the sector skills council for the freight logistics industry in the UK, announces close of business, considering placing the company into administration to facilitate the closure.

South West firms are to benefit from the £1.5 million ‘Fit For Nuclear’ fund.  The support package has been unveiled to help South West manufacturers enter or expand their presence in the growing nuclear sector.  The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has cautioned that small and medium sized manufacturers must focus more emphasis on quality and health and safety if they are going to make the most of the £60bn+ nuclear new build and decommissioning opportunity.

Universities UK has published a joint survey initiative with HEFCE and the Department for Communities and Local Government, which shows good progress on EU funding for local growth, providing an initial assessment of how universities are preparing for the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) programme 2014 – 2020.

I hope you find this information useful.



“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine”

Christopher Clarke

News Headlines

Trade & Growth
UK Labour Market, January 2015
There were 30.80 million people in work. This was 37,000 more than for June to August 2014, the smallest quarterly increase since March to May 2013. Comparing September to November 2014 with a year earlier, there were 512,000 more people in work.

Regional Labour Market, January 2015
The unemployment rate in Great Britain was highest in the North East (8.5%) and lowest in the South West (4.4%).

Forecasts for the UK economy – January 2015
A comparison of independent forecasts for the UK economy in January 2015.

Pocket databank – economic indicators
The Pocket databank is a monthly HM Treasury statistical publication, containing major economic indicators and series for both domestic and international economies.

UKCES welcomes Cities Outlook 2015
The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) today welcomed the publication of the Centre for Cities’ Cities Outlook 2015.

Seeking employers views – skills challenges faced by the digital and creative sectors
Please spare a few minutes to share your views on the skills challenges faced by the digital and creative sectors.

Skills for Health – Launching the Skills Platform – the Magic of Digital Marketing
As we enter the digital age, it’s becoming more and more prevalent to concentrate on ‘start-up strategy’.

People 1st Response to UKCES Report
Despite the career opportunities on offer, we need to work harder to showcase career opportunities in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Research highlights need for more police management skills
Police officers seeking promotion should have access to more leadership and management training, according to new research.

Business mentors sought in Torbay
Mentors are being sought to teach young people about business in Torbay.

Hinkley Point C pylon project could be delayed by three years
Plans to erect more than 140 pylons connecting Hinkley Point to Avonmouth could be delayed by up to three years.

New initiative to unlock £100m of finance for regional businesses
Nick Clegg announces that up to £50 million will be available for regionally-focused business lenders through the British Business Bank.

Small business growth – new support on offer
Small businesses awarded Innovate UK funding will now be connected to business support to help them to grow faster.

‘On-Demand Economy’ Reshaping Companies and Careers
Handy is creating a big business out of small jobs. The company finds its customers self-employed home-helps available in the right place and at the right time.

8,000 companies benefit from Regional Growth Fund
The Regional Growth Fund established by the Deputy Prime Minister has now supported 8,000 companies through 400 projects and programmes.

Rural productivity driven by hi-tech boost and better roads
More rural opportunities could increase rural employment in England by 6%.

Rural productivity and Gross Value Added (GVA)
Productivity levels in rural and urban areas in England.

Innovation in agriculture – funding opportunities for business
Businesses invited to apply for funding from the £70 million Agri-Tech Catalyst to support innovative solutions to agricultural challenges.

Greg Clark visits GFirst LEP at The Growth Hub
Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark visited GFirst LEP and the University of Gloucestershire today, to hear more about the exciting projects that will help to create up to 5000 jobs and generate up to £40 million in public and private investment for Gloucestershire.

Solent Growth Deal Consultation January 2015
The Solent LEP is seeking views on the ability of the following capital projects to contribute to the Solent Growth Strategy as set out in the Strategic Economic Plan.

Swindon and Wiltshire Secure £129 million Growth Deal
Swindon and Wiltshire secured £129 million of investment yesterday as Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg signed an historic Growth Deal in Wichelstowe.

Solent LEP – Funding advice for Island businesses
The Isle of Wight Council hosted a business support event organised by the Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on Friday (16 January).

UKCES supports call for more employers to work with schools
UKCES welcomes MyKindaCrowd research into inspiring young people about the world of work.

CIPD – Dearth of skills biggest concern for UK leaders, PWC research reveals
Concerns over skills shortages are the “biggest headache” for UK bosses who are otherwise confident about their organisations’ growth prospects, according to a global survey of leaders.

Nick Clegg responds to labour market statistics – January 2015
The Deputy Prime Minister has made a statement on employment figures released today that show an increase in the number of people in work.

Unemployment falls below 6 percent as vacancies hit record high
A new milestone has been reached with the unemployment rate falling below 6% for the first time in 6 years.

CIPD – Employment is up but ONS data suggests economic growth is slowing
The number of unemployed people fell by 58,000 to 1.91 million in the three months to November 2014 from the previous quarter, according to the latest data from Office for National Statistics (ONS).

A landmark one million jobseekers on more rigorous work search regime
Over a million jobseekers have signed up to a Claimant Commitment meaning they need to do more to find work or face losing their benefits.

A fifth of women believe it’s ‘impossible’ to attain a top job
A large proportion (45 per cent) of working women still believe that women don’t hold enough of the senior posts in their company, according to research from telecoms firm O2.

UK economy shows shift to low-skilled jobs, research finds
Britain’s economy has shifted more towards low-skilled jobs and less towards high-skilled ones compared with other European countries, according to Oxford university research.

CIPD – What to look out for in 2015
With preparations for Christmas festivities in full swing, and the new year nearly here, it’s time to look at some of the legal changes in store for employers in 2015.

City Link in Administration – Information for employees
Administrators for the delivery firm City Link have confirmed they anticipate a substantial number of redundancies in the coming days.

Jobcentre staff targeting blitz at unusual locations – taking work support direct to jobseekers
How Jobcentre staff are taking work support direct to jobseekers in unusual locations.

Quality of UK management has failed to improve in more than a decade, says CIPD report
According to a new report from the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, the overall quality of management in the UK is one of the key reasons behind the UK’s long-standing productivity weakness.

Further Education
Nick Gibb – reforming education through international evidence
Schools Minister speaks at Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Education Policy Outlook Conference.

International inspectors meet to discuss improving the FE sector
The event is an opportunity for inspectors from across Europe to learn from each other.

AoC – Department for Education cannot carry on ‘hoping for the best’
The Association of Colleges (AoC) responds to the Public Accounts Committee Report (2014-15) “16 to 18-year old participation in education and training”.

FE data library – qualifications in the population based on the labour force survey
Reports to inform understanding of qualifications in the population.

Apprenticeships add £3.2bn into South West’s economy
Apprenticeships will have been worth more than £3.2 billion to the South West’s economy in 2014, new figures have revealed.

Students set for job market, Ofsted says
Staff and students at New College have been praised by Ofsted for preparing their students for the job market.

New headteacher standards and review of ITT published
The Education Secretary welcomes new professional standards for school leaders and the Carter review of initial teacher training (ITT).

Qualifications included in performance tables
The latest position on level 1 and level 2 (sometimes known as IGCSEs) academic qualifications in performance tables.

NIACE backs ‘soft skills’ campaign
NIACE, alongside a host of other organisations – including McDonald’s, the CBI, the Federation of Small Businesses, the Association of Colleges and the National Youth Agency – are today launching a campaign to promote the importance of soft skills.

Soft skills are a building block of the economy
The Association of Colleges (AoC) is backing a new initiative from McDonald’s and James Caan calling for the re-evaluation of soft skills.

New Year Honours list 2015 – education and children’s services
The list of people working in education and children’s services who have received an honour.

Just one percent of parents want their daughters to be engineers
Attempts to change attitudes regarding gender and careers are falling on deaf ears…

Higher Education

Major HEFCE study of monographs and open access sheds light on complex issues
The Monographs and Open Access Project considers the place of monographs in the arts, humanities and social science disciplines, and how they fit into the developing world of open access to research.

UCU response to Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training
The most effective teacher training partnerships include universities as well as a range of schools, a government review has concluded recently (Monday).

£150million boost to economy from Gloucestershire’s university
The University of Gloucestershire contributed an estimated £150 million to the county’s economy in 2014 according to an independent report.

New service to support open access in the post-2014 REF
HEFCE has agreed to fund the development of a new shared service to support compliance with the policy for open access in the next Research Excellence Framework (REF). At its core, this new service will enable authors and universities to check whether a given publication is compliant with the open access policy (Note 1).

Submissions to the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) published
The 1,911 submissions made by 154 UK universities to the 2014 REF have been published on the REF website. The submissions included 52,061 academic staff, 191,150 research outputs (such as journal articles, authored books and book chapters); and 6,975 case studies of the impact of research.

Universities worry about fallout from research ranking
As universities congratulate themselves on their ratings in the Research Excellence Framework, there are fears that subjects such as modern languages may end up losing out.

UCU – Part-time student enrolments drop by 7 percent
Part-time student enrolments for UK higher education fell by 7% between 2012/13 and 2013/14, following a fall of 22% in the previous year when the part-time tuition fee cap was raised to £6,750.

Trade Unions
TUC – Full wages recovery set to take another parliament at least
Trade Unions’ Congress Head of Economics Nicola Smith comments on the latest labour market statistics published today (Wednesday) by the Office for National Statistics.

TUC – Under-employment won’t return to pre-crisis levels until 2023
The number of people who are under-employed will not return to pre-recession levels for more than eight years at the current rate of reduction, according to new analysis published by the TUC today (Monday).

International Research

International evidence review of basic skills – learning from high-performing and improving countries
Research focused on countries that were high-performing in at least one of the three dimensions assessed by the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills, or rapidly improving in literacy. The study comprised of three strands: (1) a rapid review and assessment of international evidence; (2) analysis of data from the International Survey of Adult Skills conducted as part of [Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies] PIAAC; and (3) four in-depth country case studies which included interviews with basic skills experts and English and non-English language literature reviews.

Boosting technical and vocational education – international evidence
The final report of the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce said young people of all abilities should have the opportunity to follow industry relevant vocational pathways alongside academic studies, based on new school-college partnerships. This paper provides brief insights into policy and practice in Switzerland, British Columbia and New Zealand.

Active labour market programme participation for unemployment insurance recipients – a systematic review
Study on the effectiveness of Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMPs) participation on employment status for unemployment insurance recipients. The primary outcome was measured as exit rate to work in a small time period and as the probability of employment at a given time. The two measures were analysed separately. We also investigated if participation effects differ with the type of ALMP programme and if participation in ALMP was associated with the quality of the job obtained as measured by employment duration and income.

Employment and Social Developments – Annual Review highlights key factors behind resilience to crisis
Countries providing high quality jobs and effective social protection and investing in human capital have proved to be more resilient to the economic crisis. This is one of the main findings of the 2014 Employment and Social Developments in Europe Review, which has looked back to the legacy of the recession.

UK Research Publications

Digital life in 2015 – technology’s impact on workers
Pew Research surveyed online a representative sample of adult internet users and asked those who have jobs a series of questions about the role of digital technology in their work lives. This is not a sample representative of all workers. It covers online adults who also have full- or part-time jobs in any capacity.1 The most recent survey data from Pew Research in late 2013 shows that 94% of jobholders are internet users and they work in all kinds of enterprises from technology companies to non-technology firms; from big corporations to small proprietor operations; and from those in urban areas, farms, and places in between.

Local authority schemes supporting people towards work – an independent report for the Local Government Association
Presents evidence of how local authorities are supporting people towards work through employment and skills programmes. Uses evidence from programmes in nine local authorities selected to represent a range of provision in terms of target groups and interventions.

Labour market predictions for 2015
The CIPD’s chief economist, Mark Beatson, provides an end-of-year commentary on what might be expected to happen in the UK labour market in 2015, based on economic forecasts already in the public domain.

Attitudes of the over 50s to fuller working lives
Explores attitudes to later life working and retirement among those aged over 50.

Earning by degrees – differences in the career outcomes of UK graduates
Examines how graduate career outcomes differ depending on the subject they studied and the university they attended.

Out of sight – how we lost track of thousands of NEETs, and how we can transform their prospects
We have lost track of over 150,000 young people nationally, including over 50,000 NEETs – this paper argues that society is captivated by the profoundly misleading idea that they are troubled, excluded and even dangerous.

South West Regional Ofsted Report 2013/14
This report covers schools and further education and skills inspections carried out in the South West during 2013/14. Consists of an overarching commentary, supported by separate reports on schools and the further education and skills sector and a separate report for each of Ofsted’s eight regions.

Work Programme – building best practice report – recommendations to the Department for Work and Pensions
A report by the Work Programme: Building Best Practice Group that looks at how the Work Programme can be improved.

Good jobs – a Demos and PWC essay collection
Collected essays combining a wide range of contributors sharing views on what might be meant by ‘good jobs’, productive and rewarding in all senses, and how more of them can be created through changes in approach to job design, learning and development and reward.

Our plan for growth – science and innovation – evidence paper
A summary of the evidence that was compiled to support the development of the science and innovation strategy. Sets out the role of the knowledge system in the UK and how it is resourced.

The Autumn Statement 2014
Seeks to explore this debate of infrastructure development versus cuts in more detail and highlight what was in the Autumn Statement for those in local government and those working in local economic development.

Sector Skills Research

Creative industries economic estimates – January 2015
Official Statistics measuring the contribution made by the Creative Industries to the UK Economy, including Employment, GVA and Exports of Services.

Inequality and financialisation – a dangerous mix
Emerging body of research into the links between inequality and the growth in scale and influence of the financial sector. Argues that rising economic inequality was a major cause of the financial crisis. To reduce the risk of future crises, we must both roll back financialisation and implement policies to reduce inequality.

Engineering UK 2015 – the state of engineering
Now in its 17th year, our Engineering UK report has provided the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community, government, businesses and third sector organisations with a compelling evidence base across the STEM continuum. Concludes, firstly, that Britain has skilled, world-class engineers, who are a vital and valued contribution to the UK economy, and can help mitigate the grand global challenges of climate change, ageing populations, supply of food, clean water and energy. Secondly, that the UK at all levels of education does not have either the current capacity or the rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers by 2022.

Reconomics – the economic impact of outdoor recreation
Aims to highlight the economic impact of outdoor recreation to Great Britain.

Local Enterprise Partnerships – Latest

Encouraging enterprise in education
Examines the policy issues around boosting the provision of enterprise education in the UK and Europe. It looks at how some UK education providers are embracing the challenge of integrating entrepreneurial learning in education and training.

Policy brief – how increased connectivity is boosting economic prospects of rural areas
Sets out how government policy is supporting trends in the rural economy to enhance economic prospects.

Key issues in employer engagement in education – why it makes a difference and how to deliver at scale
Identifies the tangible benefits of links between employers and young people in education; looks at some of the reasons such links have not (yet) become deep rooted; and suggests ways of increasing the variety, frequency and quality of future links.

Growth for everyone – CBI / Accenture employment trends survey 2014
Covers 323 businesses employing a combined total of more than 1.25 million people. The survey found that 50% of firms expect their workforce to grow in number over the next year. Jobs growth is expected in every region of the UK, with Scotland leading the way. Also, job prospects for young people have improved on last year with many firms planning to recruit graduates and apprentices in 2015.

Labour Market Intelligence

UK Labour Market, December 2014

Key Points for September to November 2014

  • Download PDF
  • Comparing the estimates for September to November 2014 with those for June to August 2014, employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall. These changes maintain the general direction of movement since late 2011/early 2012.
  • There were 30.80 million people in work. This was 37,000 more than for June to August 2014, the smallest quarterly increase since March to May 2013. Comparing September to November 2014 with a year earlier, there were 512,000 more people in work.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, unchanged from June to August 2014 but higher than for a year earlier (72.0%).
  • There were 1.91 million unemployed people. This was 58,000 fewer than for June to August 2014, the smallest quarterly fall since July to September 2013. Comparing September to November 2014 with a year earlier, there were 418,000 fewer unemployed people.
  • The unemployment rate was 5.8%, lower than for June to August 2014 (6.0%) and lower than for a year earlier (7.1%). The unemployment rate is the proportion of the economically active population (those in work plus those seeking and available to work) who were unemployed.
  • There were 9.09 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were out of work and not seeking or available to work (known as economically inactive). This was 66,000 more than for June to August 2014 and 41,000 more than for a year earlier.
  • The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive (the inactivity rate) was 22.4%, slightly higher than for June to August 2014 (22.2%) and for a year earlier (22.3%).
  • Comparing September to November 2014 with a year earlier, pay for employees in Great Britain increased by 1.7% including bonuses and by 1.8% excluding bonuses.
  • Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.

Regional Labour Market, January 2015

Key Points

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  • The employment rate in Great Britain was highest in the East of England and the South East (76.6%) and lowest in Wales (68.7%).
  • The unemployment rate in Great Britain was highest in the North East (8.5%) and lowest in the South West (4.4%).
  • The inactivity rate in Great Britain was highest in Wales (25.9%) and lowest in the East of England (19.3%).
  • The headline Claimant Count rate in Great Britain was highest in the North East (4.3%) and lowest in the South East and South West (1.5%).
  • Get all the tables for this publication in the data section of this publication.


Next steps for the Research Excellence Framework
23 April 2015, central London

23/04/2015 – David Sweeney, Director, HEFCE will be speaking at this seminar, which is scheduled to follow publication of this year’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), the system by which the quality of research from UK HEIs is assessed – with significant implications.

Cogent – Apprenticeship Showcase & Job Opportunities
9 March 2015, 18:00 – 21:00, Alderley Park Conference Centre,

09/03/2015 – AstraZeneca, Alderley Park, is to host an Apprenticeship, Careers and Jobs Fair event on Monday 9th March 2015 (during National Apprenticeship Week) in support of the Cheshire Science Corridor agenda. The Cheshire Science Corridor will link a series of centres of excellence, based between Macclesfield, Thornton and Daresbury into the science and research community of Manchester.