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BooksResearch in Context

There is a compelling warrant for a fresh look at the changing world of work. Years of relative stability in European employment systems have been rudely interrupted by the return of fiscal and financial crises and a radical shift in public policy in Western economies towards deficit and debt reduction. The new age of austerity has triggered social disruption in many countries, spiralling unemployment and an urgent requirement for new, grounded research that engages with the competing policy constituencies. Across Europe, youth unemployment rates are soaring even as older workers are being exhorted to prolong their (paid) working lives.

In November 2013, youth unemployment rates in Spain reached 57.7%.

Long Term Significance

The aggregate evidence base points to profound changes in the international division of labour, in work organisations and in national occupational structures, yet we have limited understanding of the longer-term significance of these changes. With growth at the top and bottom ends of the occupational hierarchy, will there be sufficient ‘middle ranking’ jobs to support the material well-being of future generations? How will the boundaries between paid and unpaid work change as governments attempt to re-balance their economies by shrinking public service provision? The present scientific base does not permit easy answers to these complex and crucial questions. The change agenda, even within a single nation such as the UK, is moving forward at a pace and in directions that call into question the reliability of policy assumptions formed in the years of relative stability.

Official Statistics published by the Cabinet Office show that the proportion of people volunteering at least once a year increased from 65% in 2010-2011 to 71% in 2012.

The International Agenda

The international agenda is more daunting still. What are the critical cutting edge challenges to established institutions, employment structures and local, national and international systems of labour regulation? What is the future of collective employment representation, voice mechanisms, and social protection in a competitive arena in which financial capitalism and the pursuit of shareholder value conflict with traditional notions of good employment practice? Connectedly, how will the internationalisation of production and service provision, through the mechanisms of global value chains, construct and constrain the dynamics of workplaces and the terms of engagement between key stakeholders?

Our Aim

The Centre at Leicester aims to shape and improve policy analysis and inform practice by bringing together a team of networked researchers to produce systematic theory and a secure evidence base to address existing knowledge gaps.

Meet our research team

Current Research

Our current research is focused on six inter-connected themes:

  1. Age, productivity and employment change
  2. Financial capitalism and employment relations
  3. Labour markets: structural change and transitions
  4. Workplace industrial relations in the shadow of recession
  5. Shrinking the state: the shifting boundaries between public and private sectors
  6. Globalisation, technology and new international divisions of labour

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