CIPD in the news: highlighting the importance of skills and job quality to our economic recovery

A round-up of the CIPD's work to raise the voice of the people profession and champion better work and working lives

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Skills and job quality must be central to our plans for economic recovery 

It’s not yet clear how severe the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic will be, but we know that skills and job quality will be crucial to our recovery. These have been two areas of focus in our recent media activity. Not only will we need to reskill and upskill workers due to the large number of job losses we are likely to see, we also need workers who are motivated and perform well.

Skills 

In our latest Learning and Skills at Work report, in association with Accenture, we found that few organisations have got clear L&D plans in place and have been slow to adopt emerging technology, like virtual reality. Given that the reskilling and upskilling of workers will be central to our economic recovery, we are calling on employers to address this issue urgently. The report was covered by: PA, Yahoo, the Scotsman and Daily Star among others. 

In our response to the latest labour market figures from the ONS, covered by the Guardian’s blog and FT (paywall), we also stressed the need for employers to help young people who are entering the workforce.  

Job quality 

While it’s right and understandable that there’s been a lot of focus on protecting jobs since the pandemic started, we don’t want employers to neglect job quality. Unfortunately, though, the Good Work Index – our annual snapshot of job quality in the UK – has found this has deteriorated over the last two years, with fewer people reporting that work has a positive impact on their mental health.  

We are particularly concerned that the situation could get worse as a result of the coronavirus, as we expect employers to make cutbacks and task workers to do more with less. In response, we are encouraging employers not to push healthy working practices to one side despite the tough economic conditions. The report was covered by: Personnel Today, Training Journal and Employee Benefits.  

How we go about providing good quality jobs for everyone was, of course, a running theme throughout the Festival of Work. Talks from the event were covered widely by trade media, including this article from Personnel Today about a panel discussion on good work. It quotes Andy Briggs, CEO at insurance provider Phoenix Group, who emphasised the importance of employee voice, which is also explored in the Good Work Index report.   

The article says he is ‘advising organisations to ‘give colleagues a much greater voice about where you should be going and what you should be doing’ as they are ‘much more in touch with this than a lot of leaders are’.  

We also released our Working Lives Scotland report, which echoed the findings of the Good Work Index. This was covered by: the BBC; The Scotsman, The Herald and Heart Radio. 

Bereavement leave extension 

Claire McCartney, senior policy adviser, spoke to the Financial Times (paywall) about our call for bereavement leave to be extended to anyone who suffers the loss of an immediate family member. Currently, it applies to parents who lose a child under the age of 18.

Domestic abuse  

We are supporting the Government’s review into workplace support for survivors of domestic abuse. Paying wages to a different bank account and making emergency salary payments available are some of the considerations being looked at.  

In this write-up, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said: ‘Far too many people have their lives destroyed by domestic abuse and there is growing evidence of increases of incidents during the lockdown and the current crisis. Domestic abuse is a societal issue, but also a workplace issue. Work should be a safe place for people where they feel they can ask for support.’ 

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) 

We continue to monitor the CJRS and to work constructively with the Government to improve it. At the end of May, we responded to the changes that have been made to allow furloughed workers to work part-time from July, which we welcomed. But Peter Cheese warned: ‘With more flexibility in the system comes a greater responsibility for businesses to treat their people fairly and keep them safe.’ 

We also expressed disappointment that many new starters have fallen through the net and will miss out on support. 

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