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Labour market and employment: current trends

25th January 2017 @ 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

The Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS) is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, formally partnering a legislative arm of government – the Northern Ireland Assembly – with academia. Aiming to encourage debate and improve understanding, KESS provides a forum to present and disseminate research findings in a straightforward format, making those findings easily accessible to decision-makers. Seminars are free to attend. To register email raise@niassembly.gov.uk



1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome

1.35pm – Assembly Committee Chair – Opening Remarks 

1.45pm – Dr John Moriarty, Dr David Wright, Dr Dermot O’Reilly and Professor Allen Thurston (QUB) – Social Mobility in Northern Ireland

Both the 2008 and 2011 Programmes for Government placed economic growth and creation of enhanced high skill labour market opportunities to the fore among the strategic priorities for Northern Ireland. Intertwined with these objectives is an emphasis on the key role of improved educational attainment in driving opportunities for social mobility. Unfortunately, social mobility has been difficult to quantify satisfactorily, due to a lack of suitable datasets. However, data linking successive Census returns have recently become available, allowing for comparison of labour market progression between persons from different socioeconomic backgrounds. This seminar will demonstrate how such linked longitudinal data can be used as evidence of:
a. The extent of both absolute mobility (i.e. changes to occupational socioeconomic structures over time, both upwards and downwards) and of relative mobility (rates of movement between socioeconomic classes);
b. The extent to which key factors such as an individual’s gender, education attainment or history of disability may affect their opportunities for socioeconomic progression; and,
c. The relative importance of macro-level socioeconomic structures versus individual-level opportunities for upward mobility.

The seminar will conclude with an overview of how further linkage with administrative records around education are enabling us to further disentangle the routes to greater economic opportunity.


2.05pm – Prof Duncan McVicar (QUB) – Zero Hours Contracts, Job Quality and Impacts on Workers

Seven years on from the Great Recession, survey data suggest that the use of zero hours contracts (ZHCs) in the UK labour market continues to grow rapidly. In some sectors, such as care working, incidence may be over 50%. This seminar will begin by summarising what we know from existing studies on the prevalence of ZHCs across recent years and across industries and socio-demographic groups at the UK level. We will then consider what we can learn about the prevalence of ZHCs in Northern Ireland from existing survey data. Finally, we will consider the impact of ZHCs on worker outcomes such as wages and job satisfaction.


2.25pm – Dr Matt Jennings (Ulster) – ‘Quality of Life’: inclusion and resilience in community cultural development

Work within the arts sector is often precarious, inequitable and underpaid. Yet policy bodies increasingly recognise the social and economic benefits of the creative industries and cultural development. Management research has identified the flexible approach of arts organisations as a model for workplace relations everywhere. Yet the resilience of cultural workers can be tested when their livelihood is threatened. This can have serious implications for the communities with whom they work. This presentation will examine working conditions within the community arts sector of Northern Ireland, drawing on interviews with 20 experienced artists from a range of disciplines and backgrounds. All helped to deliver the Derry/Londonderry City of Culture 2013 and continue to provide vital support for: the wellbeing of older people, people with mental health issues and disabilities; the education of young people and children; and peacebuilding and social development. The findings demonstrate the complexity, commitment and resourcefulness of their working lives. However, increasingly they are working outside of the region or leaving the community sector.  This presentation raises concerns for cultural inclusion within the new Department of Communities, but will also suggest innovative measures that could allow the sector to thrive, drawing on international examples of policy and practice.

2.45pm – Discussion

3.15pm – RaISe – Closing Remarks

3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments


25th January 2017
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
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Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)


Long Gallery
Parliament Buildings, Stormont
Belfast, BT4 3XX United Kingdom
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