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Praxis is an occasional series of policy think pieces, which aims to challenge, inspire and stimulate discussion and debate.

There were seven editions of Praxis published.

 Praxis 7

Praxis: Working to learn, learning to work (PDF, 181 Kb) 

Workplace learning has the potential to improve economic performance, individual life chances and skill levels. This edition of Praxis examines how learning can become central to how we work.

It asks why do some workplaces create ‘expansive’ learning environments, whilst others are more ‘restrictive’? Alan Felstead, Alison Fuller, Nick Jewson and Lorna Unwin, explore this question through six case studies.

 Praxis 6

Praxis: Blurring Boundaries and Disordering Hierarchies: Challenges for employment and skills in networked organisations (PDF, 201 Kb) 

An increasing number of individuals work in ‘networked’ organisations’ where the boundaries between, and hierarchies within, organisations are challenged as a result of outsourcing, subcontracting and collaborative working. As a result the nature of the employer/employee relationship is increasingly ‘complex and ambiguous’, with implications for people’s experiences of employment, skills, training and careers.

 Praxis 5

Praxis: Encouraging small firms to invest in training: learning from overseas (PDF, 160 Kb) 

More adults engage in learning at work than anywhere else, and given that businesses with fewer than 25 workers account for over 90% of all employers in the UK, both the quantity and quality of the training available is of critical importance.

 Praxis 4  

Praxis: Skills are not enough: the globalisation of knowledge and the future UK economy (PDF, 414 Kb) 

The UK’s policy response to globalisation centres on building a highly skilled population and competing in higher value market places: this is not enough. The UK needs to move beyond a ‘national-centric view of the world’ and to place a greater emphasis on active demand side policy that engages with employers and focuses on job creation, job quality and labour supply.

 Praxis 3 Praxis: An appetite for learning: increasing employee demand for skills development (PDF, 131 Kb) 

Raising the skill levels of the UK economy depends to some extent on individuals being prepared to invest in their own skill development, as well as expressing to employers and others their demand for formal and informal training. The chances of an individual actively seeking to increase their skills level depends, research suggests, on a number of ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ factors. People with few qualifications, those who are not employed or who work in smaller or non-unionised workplaces tend to be less likely than others to engage in, or demand, skills development.

In this paper, McQuaid, Lindsay and Johnson explore the policy implications of this research and construct a policy framework shaped around the key barriers to learning faced by adults working in the UK. They argue that in order to effectively engage the UK workforce in lifelong learning there is a need for better quality and integrated information, advice and guidance and financial support; flexible provision; and a greater use of peer-based support systems.

 Praxis 2 Praxis: Geography Matters: The importance of sub-national perspectives on employment and skills (PDF, 261 Kb) 

A sub-national perspective in employment and skills policy is an important complement to national and international analyses because, there are sub-national variations in employment structures and skills profiles; such that, economic opportunities and life chances vary across space – in a way that matters more for some people than for others, which in turn has led to a greater emphasis than formerly on policy making and delivery at sub–national level.

At a time where the effects of recession and global economic forces are increasingly being experienced at a local level, Dr Anne E Green makes a plea for recognising the importance of sub-national policy in our second paper ‘Geography Matters’. She argues that employment opportunities vary in different places and that this geographical inequality is made worse by the lack of physical mobility demonstrated by the most disadvantaged within these communities.

 Praxis 1 Praxis: Job Quality in Britain (PDF, 139 Kb) 

In the last decade job quality has been a prominent issue in policy circles. The vision of “more and better jobs” has been advanced by the British government, and separately by both the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the European Commission. Business leaders, at the same time, have called for more skilled workers, while trade unions have been drawing attention to the increasingly demanding and stressful nature of modern workplaces and the need to improve the quality of work life (European Commission, 2008).

Professor Francis Green argues that job quality should be a policy priority, and warns that during a recession, the quantity of jobs can receive a disproportionate focus. He argues that improving the quality of work in the UK will both improve the lot of individual workers, and make positive contributions to productivity and therefore recovery. His paper explores whether job quality in the UK is rising or falling, how it compares internationally and how public policy can affect the quality of work in the UK.


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