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Published: 14 January 2019

Research bid won for mapping the quality of working life in Britain

Surrey Business School is proud to be leading on a new research project “Mapping the Quality of Working Life in Britain: An Occupational Approach”, funded under the ESRC’s Secondary Data Analysis Initiative. The total amount secured was £170,000 and this project will now be taken forward over the next 18 months. 

Dr Mark Williams, is principal investigator and Dr Ying Zhou, and Dr Min Zou (Henley Business School) are co-investigators. The Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, who are leading the government’s job quality strategy, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, who are advising the government on it, will act as project partners.

Job quality in Britain is said to be in crisis. In response, the UK government initiated a far-reaching review of job quality in Britain, The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices. One outcome of the review is that the government now plans to develop and publish national indicators of progress in job quality (e.g., autonomy at work, development, job demands), alongside other headline labour market figures like unemployment and wage growth.

Therefore, using existing ESRC data, the research team have identified the need to develop a new validated occupational classification plan for mapping disparities in job quality; which they would propose the UK government adopts as part of its national strategy to produce official statistics on progress in closing job quality disparities.

Previous research has shown that ‘good’ jobs are not necessarily the highest-skilled or highest-paid, and that ‘bad’ jobs are not necessarily the lowest-skilled or lowest-paid. As well as hopefully being integrated into government strategy, the aim is that the tool might be adopted more widely, such as in academic research going forward.