In 2008 the UK entered the deepest recession since at least the Second World War and arguably since the 1930s. Output has fallen quicker and has reached far lower levels than in more recent recessions. This has resulted in unemployment rising (albeit more slowly than expected), total working hours declining, part-time working rising and earnings stagnating. However, relatively little is known about how workplace training and learning activity have fared. In the absence of this evidence, policy-makers and commentators have frequently referred to previous research on the effect of the 1990-1991 recession on training carried out by Professor Alan Felstead (Cardiff University) and Professor Francis Green (LLAKES, Institute of Education, University of London).
Against this backdrop, a research team has been awarded an ESRC grant to analyze, compare and explain the impact of the current recession on training in the UK and, in particular, its impact on the long-term ambition of making the UK a world leader in skills, employment and productivity by 2020. The project is funded under the ESRC/UKCES Strategic Partnership and is affiliated to the ESRC’s Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES), Institute of Education, University of London. The project adopts a mixed method approach which includes: reviewing existing published academic and policy evidence; comparing the results from Labour Force Surveys carried out over the last twenty years; and carrying out telephone interviews with employers towards the end of the recession and during the recovery. The project team comprises Alan Felstead, Nick Jewson (both of Cardiff University) and Francis Green (LLAKES, Institute of Education, University of London). The 30-month project starts in February 2010 and ends in July 2012.