The UK's return to economic growth needs to make a positive difference to the lives of everyone in Britain, CBI Deputy Director-General Katja Hall told a Policy Network’s Inclusive Prosperity Conference in London.
Hall said that while the UK’s flexible labour market has the best long-term record in the G7 for delivering pay rises, and saved jobs during the recession, too many people are being left behind in the jobs market. Who you are – the background you come from – has too great an influence on your ability to find a job, hold onto it and to progress up the career ladder.
New CBI research – Making Britain work for everyone – shows there is higher than average unemployment among those with lower skills, most minority ethnic groups and women.
Women are also less likely than men to keep their jobs and they tend to get lower pay rises than men, even if they have the same qualifications and live in the same place.
Katja Hall said: “We must make sure growth makes a difference to everyone and we need long-term solutions that lead to long-term prosperity. Policies with short-term appeal are unlikely to deliver growth for all in the future.
“Our labour market has a strong history of delivering new jobs and pay rises but some people are still being left behind. And who you are has far too much influence on your ability to find a job and progress in your career.
“We need to help groups at risk of disadvantage in the jobs market through better routes into higher-skilled, higher-paid work.
“Businesses must also do more to raise productivity to drive long-term growth and make higher pay rises possible. The UK is the only developed nation where productivity hasn’t been restored to pre-recession levels.”
The research calls for a focus on increased opportunity and productivity to boost wages and growth. Restrictions on the flexibility of our labour market, including unsustainable rises in the minimum wage, will damage prospects for workers and companies over the longer term, with the UK having a strong record of delivering jobs and pay when the economy grows.
Making Britain work for everyone shows that among graduates, more than eight-in-ten have a job but having no formal qualifications halves a person’s chances of finding work.
Skills are crucial for helping somebody move up the earnings ladder as well, with new CBI research finding that workers with degrees have higher pay rises than those with other higher level qualifications from one year to the next.
With the economy on the up, the CBI is now calling for businesses and the Government to do more to ensure everyone can benefit. Policies with short-term appeal will benefit some at the expense of others, so solutions that deliver growth for all in the long-term are needed.
Making Britain work for everyone says there is more businesses can do to raise productivity in particular, both to recover losses over the economic crisis and to ensure the UK is at least on a par with other developed nations.
The CBI is now carrying out a major piece of research looking at solutions to ensure that as businesses grow, everyone has the opportunity to benefit from our flexible labour market. Areas the CBI will be examining include skills, productivity, diversity and career progression.
The CBI’s research will be published later in the year.