The University of Manchester experts have delved into the evolving landscape of work in the UK, amidst the country’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, an ageing workforce, and the rising tide of automation. This exploration is encapsulated in a newly released online report named “Working Futures,” crafted by the University’s policy engagement unit, Policy@Manchester.

“Working Futures” comprises seven articles, each underpinned by research-based evidence and propositions aimed at shaping the future of work within the UK. Academics scrutinize various facets, including the imperative of striking a balance between productivity, innovation, and economic expansion, while ensuring equitable employment opportunities and fair working conditions. They also delve into the pursuit of parity, opening doors to prospects, and establishing satisfactory working environments.

The publication features a foreword from Naomi Clayton, Deputy Director at the Learning and Work Institute. She casts a spotlight on the widening disparities in the labour market, which have fueled apprehensions about the quality of work for many individuals, coupled with limited advancement from low-wage positions.

“Ensuring labour market inequalities don’t widen further and more ‘good jobs’ are available to more people means developing a comprehensive, cross-government strategy for good work with employers and trade unions,” she writes.

“A strategy that creates good jobs – jobs that pay at least enough to meet everyday needs, provide stability and security, with opportunities for development and progression – requires looking beyond the minimum wage to the reform of employment laws, sick pay and the role of sectoral collective bargaining.

“Policymakers should also explore how innovation and technological developments can be shaped, in part through regulation, to ensure as many workers benefit as possible.”

Ms Clayton adds: “The contributions in this Policy@Manchester publication consider the policy implications of a range of these issues. The articles consider the impact of changes in the labour market from a range of different perspectives – and, crucially, present evidence-led ideas about how we might address challenges and tackle inequalities.”

Professor Cecilia Wong, Academic Co-Director of Policy@Manchester, said; “Working Futures is the product of many months of collaborative effort from our magnificent authors supported by the dedicated Policy@Manchester team.

“It is brimming with robust research, expert analysis and clear recommendations across a broad and shifting employment policy landscape, which arguably does not receive the due attention it merits from policymakers and political decision-makers.

“As its title indicates, Working Futures has a deliberate emphasis on suggested future pathways for policy in this field. But it begins with a forthright piece from my colleagues Mat Johnson and Eva Herman on the ‘now of work’ with a call for tangible improvements to the working lives of those in frontline roles that keep our communities fed, educated, safe, connected and cared for.

“It is an excellent compendium of academic thought worthy of serious consideration from those with the power to effect positive change.”

“Working Futures” is available for complimentary reading on the Policy@Manchester website.