The Future of Work programme: overview
The Future of Work research programme was conceived in response to the 2017 report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), The Great British Breakthrough: Driving productivity growth in the UK. That report concluded that there were several significant barriers to productivity growth in the UK and proposed a whole series of policy initiatives to address this. The barriers included: low investment, including low capital investment across the UK economy that had resulted in a slow take-up of new technologies and a low rate of investment in training of staff; a regional growth imbalance, explained by many factors including the deindustrialisation of large parts of the Midlands and North of England and by the competitive strength of London; and a lack of occupational mobility in the labour market, alongside low wage growth, that led a large number of people to just manage in low-paid and low-skilled work for the majority of their working lives. Where The Great British Breakthrough was retrospective, this report aims to look to the future. Work is changing, both here and across the globe, and Britain needs to be prepared for this. This has implications for people, for businesses, and for policy makers in Westminster, who need to be aware of the drivers of change, prepared for them and positioned for the future. If not, then Britain will not succeed in tackling the drivers of low productivity, issues connected with low pay and low skills, or in maintaining high levels of employment. This research programme seeks to better understand the future of work, and in particular its impact on those at the bottom of the ladder.
In order for the UK to have informed policy decisions and look after its most vulnerable, there is a need to understand fully the changes that are occurring, and could take place, in the world of work. These include socio-economic change, demographic trends, technology advancements, greater levels of globalisation, evolving skill demands and a cultural shift among younger workers. Informed policy decisions should help ensure employment rates remain high and that no one is left behind, allowing the market mechanism to work properly and intervening where needed. Work is a vital route out of poverty and central to future prosperity.