The key to a successful labour market in the UK is to make sure that people get into work then get on in work, Employment Minister Tessa Jowell said in announcing a new study drom the Institute of Public Policy Research.
Ms Jowell urged that we should finally banish the bigots and bullies from the workplace after latest research showed employment discrimination is still prevalent among lower paid workers.
Ms Jowell was launching a study from the Institute for Public Policy Research, which highlights strong concerns among lower paid workers about balancing working and family life, as well as concerns about discrimination in the workplace.
Ms Jowell said, "There are more people in work than ever before and unemployment is at its lowest for a generation. Our priority for the next five years is to expand job opportunities still further as we push for full employment for the first time in a generation.
"Quality of work and equality of opportunity are the important challenges for the next stage. A productive workforce is as important for employers as it is for employees.
"This study also shows that discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace. We need to do all we can to banish the bigots and bullies that prevent women, older workers or ethnic minorities taking up opportunities in the labour market. We have said we are linking social justice to economic growth and we mean it.
"Not everyone is in their dream job, but that does not mean we shouldn't strive for the right conditions and environment in work. But the emphasis is on quality as well as quantity. "Quality of work is about employees , whatever their income - achieving four key factors in their jobs , a feeling that they are in control, employment rights, training and development and work-life balance.
"I am proud of this Government's work to increase access to work and the rewards it brings. Programmes such as New Deal, Working Families Tax Credit and the Minimum Wage Are crucial in this regard. We have taken careful steps to ensure that new legislation is practical and causes minimum burdens on business.
"This research shows that we must make people aware of what rights and protection they have and that employers are not unwittingly placed in a position of breaching the law.
"These findings show that for most working people there are real concerns about achieving the right balance between their job and the rest of their lives. We need more debate about working hours, because we work the longest hours in Europe but with no apparent pay off in overall national productivity.
"We want people to have confidence in the labour market. They need to know that Government and employers are on their side in helping to create the conditions for them to develop stimulating jobs and rewarding careers."
The IPPR study highlighted views of workers in lower and middle paid jobs on quality of work, their expectations of work and aspirations for future employment
- Discrimination, both age and sex discrimination were priority issues. For example interviewees in the 50-60 age group felt that their skills and experience were under-valued by employers
- Employees' Rights, there is concern that rights don't apply equally to all
- Work-life balance, the majority of interviewees recognised the benefits of improving quality of work by achieving a better work-life balance
- Training, there is recognition that further training and qualifications can lead to more pay and better job prospects but many feel it is too late to 'start again'.