RSA chief Matthew Taylor has set up a new think tank that will explore trends in the future of work – and come up with radical solutions to reach its goal of ‘good work for all’.
The Future Work Centre, part of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, announced its arrival with the launch of its first report Striving, Thriving or Just About Surviving.
Its main findings include challenging the idea that economic insecurity is confined to the gig economy, finding that the problem is ‘widespread’ in the UK.
Its survey of 2,000 people found that 43% of workers do not have anyone in their household whom they could depend on to support them financially in the event of hardship.
A total of 32% in-work have less than £500 in savings, 41% have less than £1,000 and 29% are concerned with their level of debt.
It found that workers don't just have money worries however. More than half of employees (44%) say they feel they have progressed in their careers over the last five years. Only 40% feel they have good opportunities to progress in future.
Brhmie Balaram, the report’s author and senior researcher at the RSA, said that the survey reveals overlooked causes of modern insecurity: “The gig economy has rightly captured the public’s imagination in recent years. People who find work on platforms often struggle to make ends meet as they go from job to job, with no sick pay and no entitlement to the national living wage.
“But our new research reveals that economic insecurity now stretches right throughout our labour market, including within jobs that appear safe on the surface.
“From retail workers to warehouse operatives, and from care workers to cleaners, we are beginning to uncover the hidden millions who are chronically broke year in, year out."
She also urged that we must not get 'distracted by automation and machines coming after our jobs': "The real danger for this group of workers is a childcare bill unpaid and yet another rent rise around the corner.”
However, the new think tank will explore trends around automation, such as the impact of robotics and AI as well as the rise in self-employment, the nature of gig work, and the hidden activities of the informal economy in order to come up with solutions to problems. The group states that “We believe that good work for all is an achievable goal – one that can only be realised through radical but pragmatic interventions.”
Striving, Thriving or Just About Surviving report can be read here
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