Workers in Newport urgently need more support to find future opportunities
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A lack of information and low confidence in navigating job opportunities is leaving many workers vulnerable to uncertainty in the job market, especially in Wales.

  • The research shows workers experience career navigation as costly and demoralising and fear dismissal if it is known they are looking for other opportunities.
  • 18 workers in Newport, south Wales took part in the ethnographic research to identify barriers to looking for work in an uncertain labour market.
  • Urgent action is now needed more than ever to build confidence, reduce the risk and costs associated with job-hunting, particularly due to the impact of the pandemic.

A new report published today shows that a lack of confidence and unclear information prevents workers from seeing career opportunities and has a detrimental effect on their career.

The research, commissioned by Nesta and conducted by BritainThinks, was carried out between January and March 2020 but is especially timely now that the effects of COVID-19 on the Welsh economy are becoming clearer. 18 workers in Newport, south Wales, were interviewed as part of the study and the area provides an interesting case study as 23.4% of workers are in jobs that are very likely to decline, such as manufacturing and retail, which is higher than the UK average.

The findings show that

  • Unclear information in job adverts about salary, hours, contract and tasks prevented workers from seeing opportunities;
  • Workers experienced navigating career changes as costly, risky and demoralising;
  • The lack of career confidence often prevented them from thinking strategically about their career choices.

One participant in the study said, “I don’t feel confident to be honest, I’m scared to [look for jobs] and scared of change. Taking that step is scary - I’m trying to boost myself to do the actual searching but it’s petrifying.” Another participant said, “The research has made me look more closely at where I want to go career-wise. It has made me more proactive.”

The report is part of Open Jobs, an initiative helping individuals, organisations and governments take more informed labour market decisions through carrying out data-driven research, place-based experimentation and advocating for smarter labour market policies. Recent Welsh Government research also found that action was needed to protect large numbers of workers from high susceptibility to automation of jobs.

Peter Baeck, Co-Head of the Centre for Collective Intelligence Design, said:

‘The story in Newport is a vivid example of the types of challenges job seekers are facing across the UK. In spite of the vast data we have to understand supply and demand of skills, people who are at risk of losing their jobs still struggle to find basic information about work opportunities or career changes. We can only fix this if we improve how information and data is shared with people who need it to ensure they can find jobs and build skills more easily and feel more confident in doing so.’

The report has recommendations for employers and the Government, including

  • A more joined-up approach to publishing data on jobs and occupations to help workers make more informed choices;
  • Ensuring support is tailored to a worker’s career navigation, depending on where they are in their career;
  • Making services more successful by drawing on the support offered by friends and family, as they are a trusted source for many people.


Notes to editors

Contact information:

We have two case studies who are willing to speak with media. Please get in touch if you are interested.

Contact: [email protected] - 07921927454

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Open Jobs Press