Skills and Employment Survey 2023: Continuity and Change

Lead Research Organisation: CARDIFF UNIVERSITY
Department Name: Sch of Social Sciences


SES2023 will be the eighth in a series of surveys of workers stretching back over 35 years. The OECD has stated that 'there is a strong policy need for better measures of job quality' to improve workers' well-being, increase productivity and competitiveness, and boost societal welfare. The UK government has gone further by agreeing to 'report annually on the quality of work in the UK economy and hold ourselves to account'. Yet, official data on job quality remains thin on the ground.

To help plug this gap, a group set-up by the Carnegie Trust/RSA suggested that 32 new questions be added to the Labour Force Survey. However, in response, only two questions on career progression and employee involvement in decision-making have been added. This provides an inadequate response to the scale of the challenge and makes it difficult to paint a picture of the quality of working life in Britain today.

Furthermore, the UK's data infrastructure in this area is particularly weak in comparison with countries where monitoring job quality is better resourced, such as Germany, France, Italy, Finland and the US. The withdrawal of the UK from the EU also means data from European surveys will not be available to plug the gap.

Given recent societal and policy changes, the UK faces an increased need to know how the world of work has changed combined with a weakening evidence base on which to do so. There is an urgent need for the SES series to be extended to address this gap, provide data to meet user needs and secure the long-term foundation for research in this area. It will also address ESRC strategic research objectives, such as connecting with the UK policy agenda, and ensuring that data collection is resilient and responsive to change.

The 2023 survey will collect data face-to-face from workers aged 20-65 as well as from similar aged workers who take part in an online/telephone version of the same survey. Respondents will be drawn from randomly created samples. Comparisons will be made between the two samples to determine the extent to which the mode of interview influences the responses given. The survey will collect data from around 4,300 workers, 2,835 of whom will be interviewed face-to-face and around 1,500 will take part online or on the phone if they do not have internet access.

The proposal has the financial support of the Department for Education, and the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. It also has the support of 17 stakeholders. These include the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Office for National Statistics, the Trades Union Congress, and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Furthermore, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy are keen to explore funding boosts for their geographical areas.


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