press release
Published: 25 February 2023

Survey to examine the impact of Brexit, Covid-19 and Cost-of-Living on workers

The extraordinary period of turbulence for workers in the UK brought on by Brexit, Covid-19 and the cost-of-living crisis will be top of the agenda for the new Skills and Employment Survey 2023.  

The survey, which is currently underway, involves academics from the University of Surrey, Cardiff University, UCL, University of Oxford and the National Centre for Social Research. The survey ends in April 2025. 

Researchers will explore issues such as whether employees prefer working from home or in the office, and the impact their work location has on their productivity, skills development and promotion prospects.  

Professor Ying Zhou, Director of the Future of Work Research Centre at the University of Surrey, said:  

“We are experiencing a lot of uncertainty at the moment. The Skills and Employment Survey is well positioned to address the critical questions facing the future workforce, such as the implications of new digital technologies, the hopes and perils of hybrid working and the growing interest in the meaningfulness of work.”  

People aged 20-65 working in the UK will be asked their views for the eighth survey in the series, which has been collecting data periodically for the past 35 years. Past surveys were carried out on a nationally representative sample of workers in 1986, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2012 and 2017, involving a total of 29,132 participants. 

The growth of insecure work and the impact of technology on how workers are managed are additional areas that will be focused upon. The relationship between workers’ mental health and wellbeing and the social usefulness of the work undertaken will also be examined.  

Professor Alan Felstead, Co-director of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD), Cardiff University, said:  

“Workers are facing some of the biggest shifts to their working practices for a generation. The cost-of-living crisis and current economic turbulence has quickly followed the global pandemic and Brexit. These events have presented huge challenges as well as creating opportunities to develop new ways of working.  

“Despite these seismic changes, there is still a lack of robust data to inform employers, policymakers and academics as they look ahead to the future of work. We hope that the Skills and Employment Survey will provide those robust and authoritative insights needed to ensure productivity, as well as employee wellbeing, are at the heart of decision-making on the future direction of work in Britain.”  

The last Skills and Employment Survey took place in 2017. Those findings showed that:     

  • Workers in the UK were working harder than ever before. Almost half (46%) of them strongly agreed that their job required them to work very hard compared to just a third (32%) of workers in 1992.   

  • UK teachers’ job quality has fallen since 2006. Teachers worked harder in less flexible jobs at lower pay. The decline in job quality can partly explain the drop in job-related wellbeing.  

  • While workers worked harder than ever before, they did not work smarter. After nearly a decade of increasing skills use between 1997 and 2006, the typical levels of skills required to do jobs dropped between 2006 and 2017.   

 Results from the new survey will inform scholars and UK government policy thinking on the scale of the challenges facing the UK even before the economic turbulence of the last few years.    

This research is made possible by a £2.1 million grant, mainly from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). 


Notes to editors 

  • If you would like to speak with Professor Ying Zhou about the UK Skills and Employment Survey 2023, please email:   

The Future of Work Research Centre at Surrey University pursues ground-breaking interdisciplinary research to understand the changing nature of work and employment relationships, the forces that support these changes, and their impact on organisational effectiveness and human wellbeing. The centre’s research is anchored in the belief that work is a distinctively human endeavour through which individuals live meaningful and fulfilling lives as they strive to build prosperous, fair and inclusive societies. You can find us at:

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