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Making the Best of a Bad Job

David Goodhart asks whether too much stress on social mobility has demeaned ordinary jobs, and finds out how low-skilled work can be made to seem more attractive.

David Goodhart considers whether the declining status of basic jobs can be halted and even reversed.

Successive governments have prioritised widening access to higher education to try to drive social mobility, without giving much thought to the impact this has on the expectations of young people who, for whatever reason, are not going to take that path.

But even in a knowledge-based economy, the most basic jobs survive. Offices still need to be cleaned, supermarket shelves stacked, and care home residents looked after.

The best employers know how to design these jobs to make them more satisfying. Are politicians finally waking up to the problem?

Contributors in order of appearance:

Caroline Lloyd, professor and industrial relations specialist at the University of Cardiff
Donna Braithwaite, supermarket worker
Bill Mumford, chief executive of care charity MacIntyre
Geoff Dench, sociologist and founder of the charity Men for Tomorrow.
Sir Peter Lampl, founder of the Sutton Trust
Andrew Oswald, professor of economics at the University of Warwick
Josie Zerafa, cashier at Iceland supermarket
Tracey Vella, cashier at Iceland supermarket
Sandra McNamara, store manager at Iceland supermarket

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Available now

30 minutes

Last on

Sun 24 Feb 2013 21:30


  • Mon 18 Feb 2013 20:30
  • Sun 24 Feb 2013 21:30

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