Breaking the cycle: what works in reducing intergenerational worklessness and fragile employment

Daria Luchinskaya, Anne E. Green

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Research suggests that intergenerational worklessness is unlikely to be widespread in Wales. However, fragile employment – whereby individuals move repeatedly in and out of work with periods of worklessness in between – is a significant problem for some households and communities.
This report uses an employability framework to identify the factors that restrict an individual’s ability to enter, remain and progress in work.
While the evidence shows that a ‘Work First’ policy approach (getting people into work quickly) has had some limited success, it does not reduce the risk of fragile employment because many of the jobs secured as a result of it are part-time, temporary, and characterised by low skill and low pay.
Individuals and households at risk of fragile employment and worklessness face multiple barriers to employment which can vary between groups. So it is important to combine a holistic policy approach with targeted initiatives that are tailored to the needs of different groups – both when they are out of work and when they are in employment.
Policies need to take account of differences between local labour markets. Successful local policies, however, are underpinned by centrally operated fiscal and monetary policies, and complement policy initiatives delivered at the UK and Wales levels.
It is important that interventions take account of the demand for labour as well as supply issues: employers are gatekeepers to jobs and their recruitment practices, management culture, and the way work is organised, all shape prospects for sustainable employment and progression.
In a rapidly changing labour market, ‘career adaptability’ (the ability to develop skills and competencies to make successful transitions within employment) is increasingly important and there is a need for policies that help people to develop this.
This report outlines a series of practical recommendations that the Welsh Government should consider to address the issue of fragile employment. For example, it needs to adopt a holistic approach that is tied to regeneration projects and procurement policies that provide opportunities for residents of deprived areas. It is also important to take a ‘Career First’ approach and to work with employers and labour market intermediaries in the nine priority sectors to develop sustainable jobs with opportunities for progression.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCardiff
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


  • fragile employment
  • worklessness
  • career adaptability
  • sustainable jobs
  • careers


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