A man and a woman looking over a CV together

Jobs and Skills in the Leeds City Region


Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Total value of project


Project team

Professor Paul Sissons, Dr Jennifer Ferreira


The Institute for Employment Research (University of Warwick), The Work Foundation

Duration of project

01/12/2014 - 29/02/2016

Project overview

Low-paid work and in-work poverty are significant issues in the UK economy. The aim of this project is to use research insights to help inform choices in Leeds City Region around employment and skills policy, particularly relating to in-work progression. The project is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation who are working in partnership with Leeds City Region on a programme of work focused on ‘More jobs, better jobs’ for the area.

Project objectives

Policy aimed at supporting in-work progression in the UK is currently under-developed. However the emerging policy agenda of devolving funding to local areas to support economic growth provides potential opportunities for shaping skills and employment support to more effectively enable progression. This research will utilise international evidence and national and local labour market intelligence and insights to generate a proposal for a package of employment and skills initiatives focusing on progression from low-paid work in Leeds City Region.

  • Enabling progression out of low-paid jobs is an important element in tackling in-work poverty. Existing skills and employment support systems in the UK concentrate more on entering work than progression in work. But interest in in-work progression is increasing, in the context of Universal Credit and a greater focus on employers’ involvement in skills policy and sector-specific initiatives. The policy agenda of devolving funding to city-regions to support economic growth, and local stakeholders’ strategic responsibility for the European Structural and Investment Fund (ESIF) programme, provides opportunities to develop innovative employment and skills initiatives with a focus on progression.

    This research developed proposals for a package of progression-focused employment and skills initiatives. Although the research focuses on circumstances in, and initiatives for, the Leeds City Region, the evidence review, analysis and proposed initiatives have wider applicability for other local areas.

    The study presents a package of three inter-linked policy initiatives, with a combination of individual and employer-facing elements:

    The design of the proposed initiatives takes account of current policies, structures and resources in the Leeds City Region but is not necessarily constrained by them. Rather the proposed initiatives aspire to raise ambition and provide ideas and new approaches that can significantly improve progression from low pay. The three initiatives are:

    1. a careers IAG service for low-paid workers to support progression: the proposal is designed to enhance National Careers Service provision in England, focusing on key design features such as the payment model;
    2. an in-work progression service for individuals, encompassing two alternative models: an advancement service for individuals in low-paid work providing a combination of career support/coaching and guidance with training provision aimed at accessing higher-paid jobs; and a sector-based dual-customer approach focusing on both employers and low-wage workers, and emphasising employer-led training linked to career advancement opportunities; and
    3. an employer-facing business support service aimed at shaping workplace practices and improving earnings progression for part-time workers.
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