“It’s a great pleasure to have Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) and chair of the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices as our guest blogger this week.” Ewan Aitken, CEO, Cyrenians.
Work matters. Getting and holding a job is still the best route out of poverty and the best way to access new opportunities. However, work should be about more than simply paying the bills, offering space for personal development and fulfilment. Sadly this isn’t always the case. Work can be demoralising, a barrier rather than contribution to a happy life, and something that many people can be excluded from. The nature of work has changed dramatically in recent years, moving from jobs for life, rooted in a specific career or profession, to ‘portfolio’ careers, often in precarious or short term roles. The growth of the gig economy has brought new opportunities for flexibility for workers, but has also been exploited at points to put those workers in unfair positions.
I recently chaired the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, on behalf of the UK Government, which sought to explore some of these areas, and the challenges and opportunities they bring. We sought to identify some of the protections and supports which workers need, whilst avoiding undermining the employers themselves, who are essential components of the economy. My vision in the Review is to work towards a truly inclusive economy, where all citizens can both participate in and benefit from the economic activity and growth in the country. There are many strengths in our economy and approach to work, yet in work poverty has increased in recent years. As automation and new technology impact upon our economy and the labour market in ever quicker ways, we will need to identify new ways of engaging a wider section of our population.
In light of this I am delighted to see the event which Cyrenians are hosting in Edinburgh on the 3rd October. Focussing as it does on inclusive growth and employability, it seeks to address many of the issues I have identified above with a specific focus on the disconnected community the charity represents. It recognises both the opportunity offered by a buoyant employment market and the challenge for those struggling to access it. The knowledge that Cyrenians possesses from years of working with excluded communities is a valuable contribution to the wider economic and societal debates which are taking place, offer insights into the lived experience of many on the periphery of our labour market. It will require appropriate access to lifelong training and development through a national framework for employability skills, which will allow workers to develop the skills needed for moving between jobs, as well as greater clarity of the expectations and rights of workers in different employment categories. As we have seen with the recent ruling on Uber in London, it will challenge our concept of what work looks like, and the presumptions we make about success in a labour market which is rapidly evolving.
I believe that the changes we see ahead of us offer opportunity, and I remain optimistic that accessing them will continue to offer the best way for us to address the social challenges we face. At the RSA we are committed to working with organisations like the Cyrenians in ensuring a truly inclusive future, and I look forward to seeing how these collaborations progress.
Matthew Taylor is Chief Executive of the RSA. You can read his blog on the RSA website and follow him on Twitter @RSAMatthew