Mr Jonathan Payne
The Political Economy of Skill.This is a collaborative project with Caroline Lloyd (SKOPE) which aims to improve on existing theoretical foundations for analysing the development and use of skills at the workplace. We have developed an approach which links macro-institutions and the state with workplace dynamics and the development of high skill strategies. The research focuses on exploring the constraints and opportunities that exist for shifting public policy in the area of skills. The analysis has been applied to the English education system, British trade unions, the policies of New Labour, exploring the high skills vision and the role of high performance work organisation.
Emotional Labour and Skill.A central strand of SKOPE’s research has been to track the changing meaning of skill and to explore its implications. This new project, which builds upon earlier work in this area, focuses upon the concept of emotional labour in interactive or front-line service work. It has been argued by some commentators that emotional labour can be properly viewed as a component of skilled work performance and that such recognition can be used to advance claims to higher status and pay for many currently low waged service workers. This project subjects these claims to closer critical scrutiny and argues that applying the label ‘skilled’ to all jobs involving emotional labour is deeply problematic.
Sector Skills Councils and Employer Engagement.Sector skills councils (SSCs) have a vital role in delivering the UK government’s skills and productivity agenda and are seen as key to developing a skills delivery system that is both ‘demand-driven’ and ‘employer-led’. As ‘employer-led’ bodies at sectoral level, the role of SSCs is to engage employers in efforts to improve skill development and utilisation. Drawing upon interviews with key representatives of seven SSCs, this project looks at where SSCs currently find themselves in relation to their employer engagement strategies – what strategies are they currently adopting and how do they see the challenge of employer engagement in what is supposed to be an ‘employer-led’ system? The research adopts an historical perspective and explores the challenges that SSC face in light of the problems experienced by previous ‘voluntary’ sectoral bodies in the UK.