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October 31, 2016 / Sian Moore

New skills for a skilled economy: the post-Brexit outlook

This seminar will cover the crisis in skills formation in the UK economy and the potential impact of Brexit. It will take place on Wednesday, 30th November 2016, from 3-6 pm at the University of Greenwich (Hamilton House). It features three expert speakers who will speak about the current skills shortages facing the UK labour market, the Government policies aimed to remedy them and the situation post-Brexit. Our speakers include Professor Ken Mayhew (University of Oxford and ex-economic director of the UK’s NEDC); Richard Meredith (University of Greenwich and previously employed in both the public employment service and private intermediary services) and Sue Fearns (Prospect – the trade union representing professional staff in the civil service and energy industry). 

Ken Mayhew (University of Oxford) will explore Alternative Pathways into the Labour Market in the UK.  Ken will argue that the current configuration of pathways into the labour market is massively sub-optimal.  The consequence is that there is widespread under-utilisation of skills and capabilities together with harmful distributional consequences.  He will go on to consider how policy makers might address the problems.

Ken Mayhew is Emeritus Professor of Education and Economic Performance at Oxford University, Emeritus Fellow in Economics at Pembroke College Oxford and Honorary Professor of Education and Economic Performance at Maastricht University.  Currently he is a member of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body.   He was Founding Director of SKOPE, an ESRC-funded multidisciplinary research centre on skills, knowledge and organisational performance.  Outside academia he served as Economic Director of the UK’s former National Economic Development Office.  Mayhew has published widely on labour economics, human resource management, the economics of education and policy analysis.  He is an editor of Oxford Economic Papers and The Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

Richard Meredith (University of Greenwich) will talk about Local Enterprise Partnerships. Richard’s paper will investigate the responsibilities and membership of Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in England to assess the prospects for devolution of employment and skills policy. The paper argues that LEPs represent a fresh, market-driven attempt by government to alter the institutional framework for meeting local labour market needs through devolved, business-led bodies. However, the paper also shows that while LEPs assume devolved powers, their structure, resourcing and leadership are poorly aligned for the engagement of local employers. It is therefore argued that the prospects for effective devolution in the area of employment and skills are weak. Rather, it is argued, government employment and skills programmes are set to be dominated by a centralised contracting regime involving large private sector agents.

Richard Meredith is an MPhil/PhD student and part-time lecturer within the Work and Employment Relations Unit at the University of Greenwich.   His research interest is employers’ motives for recruiting the long term unemployed, particularly in the case of the UK.    He has 23 years public sector experience (including the UK Public Employment Service) and 13 years industry experience in Employer Intermediary Services (including Business Link and Train to Gain).

Sue Fearns (Prospect) will look at Professional skills and the union perspective. Sue will cover three main issues in her talk: STEM skills – the current position and the post-Brexit outlook; skills and professional development in the civil service; and skills and the ‘productivity puzzle’. Sue will also reflect on the role of Prospect as a trade union representing highly skilled professionals within the UK labour market.

Sue Fearns is Deputy General Secretary at Prospect, the union for professionals. Her responsibilities in Prospect include leading the union’s work on equal opportunities; legal services; skills; campaigning and communications; and on science, engineering and sustainability.  She is a member of the TUC General Council and Executive Committee, and is a board member of unionlearn, deputy chair of the Women’s Committee and a TUC Aid Trustee. She has been an active member of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee since its inception, and is the General Council’s lead on environment and sustainability. Sue is also Chair of Unions 21. Unions 21 provides an ‘open space’ for discussion on the future of the trade union movement and the world of work, helping to shape unions since 1993 by providing evidence, advice, new thinking and networks.She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and a trustee of the Science Council.

This is an open seminar and all are invited but please can you inform us if you are planning to attend from outside the University of Greenwich by contacting Professor Geoff White, on



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