From education to employment

In-Work Progression Report – Bosses urged to do more to help workers in low paid jobs get ahead

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey MP


@dwppressoffice – The In-Work Progression Commission calls for increased support for those on Universal Credit such as more time with Work Coaches, a greater focus on encouraging people on low pay to take up training opportunities, and improved transport links for those in disadvantaged areas so they can access more employers 

MILLIONS of workers in low paid jobs across the country need action to help them climb the jobs ladder, an independent report out today asserts. 

The In-Work Progression Commission calls for increased support for those on Universal Credit such as more time with Work Coaches, a greater focus on encouraging people on low pay to take up training opportunities, and improved transport links for those in disadvantaged areas so they can access more employers. 

The Commission, launched in March 2020 to help secure better progression prospects for workers, has published its year-long study shining a light on the issue and how employers and Government can forge a brighter future for low paid workers. 

The report identifies key barriers to progression, including costs of learning new skills, caring responsibilities and a lack of confidence – with women, older people and those from ethnic minority groups facing the biggest obstacles holding back their careers.  

Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey MP said: 

“I want everyone from any background to have the chance of a fulfilling and rewarding job with the opportunity to get on in life. Businesses need to lead the way and it is a win-win situation benefitting from higher skilled staff. 

“This is how we build back better and fairer, with more investment in our jobs, more training and more opportunities.” 

 In-Work Progression Commissioner Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith said: 

“We had record levels of employment when I was asked to set up this commission – and while that’s important, it’s only part of the story. As we look to the future, now is the time for Government and businesses to work together to support people into employment, and crucially to progress so they can increase their earnings and reach their full potential.” 

Today’s report highlights how employers need to lead the way in supporting employees to progress and increase their earnings – and in return will see their firm grow.

Research shows 75% of organisations who reported above-average productivity had developed talent internally through progression – this is compared with just 42% of those who report below-average productivity, with research suggesting that for every £1 spent on employability programmes, companies could recoup an additional £2.50 in financial and economic benefits. 

With 52% of millennials saying opportunities for career progression make an organisation an attractive employer – businesses that invest in their workforce can enjoy greater loyalty and higher retention rates amongst their workers. This report also highlights how the Government is already encouraging training through its Skills Bootcamps, apprenticeships and Train and Progress initiative – extending the time people can receive Universal Credit while undertaking work-focused study. 

Organisations including Whitbread, McDonalds and the British Chambers of Commerce have already shown their support for the report.

Becky Woodmansee, Whitbread People Director, said: 

“As the UK’s largest hospitality employer, Whitbread has long-advocated the benefits of in-work progression and fully supports the report’s aim to support workers to develop fulfilling and rewarding careers over the course of their employment. As an employer which values diversity, with no barriers to entry and no limits to ambition, we particularly welcome a light shone on barriers which can be associated with women, older people and ethnic minority groups. Retaining and developing our employees is critically important to us – the opportunity for in-work progression for those who want it is an important factor in employee wellbeing and our targeted programme has helped us improve business performance so it truly is win-win all round”. 

Shevaun Haviland, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce said: 

“Employment is one of the best ways to broaden people’s opportunities and build their aspirations for the future. This review provides an important contribution on how best to do this and should be required reading for every part of Government.  

“Many businesses recognise the practical benefits that come from offering employees a clear career path through their organisations. Alongside more flexible working practices, and better transport links, the ability to access relevant training is key to making this happen. 

“But it can be difficult for smaller firms to identify the skills needs of their workforce so they can provide them with the support they require. We must create a more relevant, joined-up and flexible skills system that helps firms to deliver what is required both now and in the future. We look forward to working with Government on making many of the recommendations in this report a reality.” 

Andy Briggs, Group CEO of Phoenix Group and UK Government Business Champion for Older Workers and the Ageing Society, said: 

“Lifelong learning is essential for businesses and individuals to adapt and thrive. Businesses have a responsibility to help all employees progress their careers, with both individuals and businesses benefitting from lifelong learning. Older workers in particular offer a wealth of knowledge and experience but are often written off or overlooked due to myths about lack of ability, desire or ambition. Age is no barrier to learning and businesses should invest for all so they enjoy the benefits of greater retention and more skilled employees. 

“Caring should also not create a penalty at work. The report identifies caring responsibilities as a potential barrier to career progression and we know that the pandemic has only likely exacerbated these problems. Phoenix research found that 4.7 million working carers told us they may have to give up their jobs due to unsupportive employers if they needed to take on greater caring responsibilities, and that 3 in ten employees feel so unsupported they don’t even tell their employers. A little more flexibility and support can enable people who also have caring responsibilities to continue and progress in their careers. 

“All employees deserve to feel valued and invested in, and businesses should do all they can to train and develop their employees, no matter their age.” 

The Government has committed to carefully considering the findings of the report and will respond in due course.

Secretary of State Thérèse Coffey established the Commission at the beginning of last year during a period of record levels of employment but as a result of the pandemic switched its focus to the structures needed to support a strong economic recovery.


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