Researchers to investigate the impact of Covid-19 on fair working opportunities in the Midlands

A new study is exploring how the Covid-19 crisis has exposed gaps in the provision of fair working opportunities in the Midlands as the region looks to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

The research, led by Dr Xuebing Cao and Dr Will Foster from Keele University Business School and Professor Tony Dobbins from Birmingham University, will provide recommendations to government departments, organisations and community groups to increase the provision of ‘decent work’ - access to work that is productive, delivers a fair income, ensures security in the workplace, and provides social protection for families – for individuals across the region.

The Midlands is one of the areas of the UK that has been most heavily impacted by Covid-19, with a lack of employment opportunities often leading to long-term unemployment and lifetime earning reduction, risk of permanent loss of skills, and lower education outcomes in the next generation. To respond to the crisis and ensure a strong recovery for the region, there is an urgent need for policies to encourage an increased investment in advocating decent work and an inclusive economy in the Midlands.

The study brings together the perspectives of key stakeholders including the government, business societies, employee associations and other public organisations on the current decent work policies and will determine how these can be changed or refined to help with economic recovery and achieve sustained and inclusive economic growth across the region.

The research will support the Keele Deal | Recovery which aims to create a powerful and wide-ranging programme of contributions aimed at achieving a major impact on the region’s recovery and building long-term resilience.

The project team will establish a Midlands decent work policy development platform to facilitate debates, dialogue and knowledge sharing activities, and will create a policy forum and workshop that will facilitate knowledge exchange between a range of institutions and organisations across the region. An evidence-based report will also be developed with recommendations for the government to consider for the clearer development of decent work policies which consider the Covid-19 recovery needs for the region.

Dr Cao, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management, said: “We are very excited about contributing to the Midlands' post-Covid recovery by exploring the development and implementation of an innovative, co-ordinated public policy response to achieve quality, socially necessary work and employment, and address the needs for job creation, skills development and decent income for the region.”

Dr Foster, Senior Lecturer and Director of MBA and Executive Programmes, added: “This project has brought together multiple stakeholders to discuss, understand and conceptualise a very complex set of issues and it has been invaluable to have the views of senior leaders, governmental officials and employee/employer/community representatives from such a diverse range of backgrounds to bring a focus onto the wicked problem of decent work in Covid recovery.”