Employment Polarisation, Gender And Regeneration
An ippr report by Ioannis Kaplanis tells of increasing employment polarisation in Britain – with differences most significant amongst female employees in London. Regional economies must learn from Kaplanis’s studies, looking especially at policies for the full use and retention of women’s high-level skills. One emphasis must surely be on how very senior decision makers outside London (a hugely male population) respond to this challenge.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) has just published a paper by Ioannis Kaplanis at the London School of Economics. The report, entitled, The Geography of Employment Polarisation in Britain, offers potentially far-reaching implications for renewal and regeneration in the UK.
Polarisation, but not greater absolute poverty
In essence, Kaplanis tells us that polarisation between high-paid and low-paid occupations in Britain has increased significantly since the early 1990s, but that both categories have seen expansion when measured against middle-income activity.
This, Kaplanis suggests, is because technology (and international out-sourcing?) have removed the need for large numbers of middle-level skills, whereas very highly skilled work still requires very highly skilled people – who in turn stimulate the demand for lower-level skills such as domestic cleaning and local leisure facilities. (Perhaps this polarisation is also more likely to occur where there is a lot of private sector activity.)
The gender dimension
Most significant of all, it appears, has been this effect on female employment in London – which is hardly surprising, given that many talented young people go to London to work; and London is where gender discrimination is, if necessary, most challenged and least likely to occur before the highest levels of the glass ceiling. (Merseyside, as a contrasting example, has an appalling senior level employment record in gender terms.)
Add to such a backdrop the obvious fact that women are usually responsible for hiring domestic help (they can’t do home maintenance and have high level jobs…) and we have a win-win for female workers at both ends of the formal skills spectrum.
The regional challenge
There are many other aspects to Kaplanis’s work in addition to gender, but he does note that employment polarisation is now (the converse may have been true until the early 1990s) less evident in the UK regions than in the capital.
So here’s a challenge: get highly-skilled women outside London working at the level of their acquired expertise – and pay and promote them properly.
Then maybe the UK regions would see a turn-around of their still relatively declining fortunes. It’s only one part of the equation, but it might just prompt that desperately needed impetus towards success.