The Women’s Work Lab and UWE Part 2

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For the last month, my team at UWE Bristol, the Stakeholder Engagement team, have had a guest with us on placement. This is part of an initiative set up by an amazing Community Interest Company called Women’s Work Lab.

Becky Ware has joined us and very quickly become a part of the team. I have seen her confidence grow, her enthusiasm spark new ideas and her creativity bring a fresh mind-set to challenges.  Here she shares her story about the power of Women’s Work Lab, and the vital support provided by many organisations, like UWE, in offering work placements.

“Being a single stay-at-home mum, it is easy to fall into a routine, and that routine becomes a comfort that is hard to break out of.

I have been out of work for just over 9 years, in that time I had a second child, and an operation on my kidney which I had to wait a few years for.

I was trying to motivate myself into job hunting, but didn’t know where to start, having had such a large career break.

I was lucky that I had a social prescriber who texted me unexpectedly one day advising about The Women’s Work Lab (WWL), I had a look at their website, and read through all the information, a 12-week programme where they help you to get back into work sounded ideal.

I applied on a Saturday and was offered a place on the course on the following Tuesday, I had a bit of apprehension, would I be any good? Am I really the type of person that they help? Am I deserving of this? But I decided that I had to give it a go, I owed myself the chance to improve my life, and that of my kids.

The Thursday of that week I went for my first day, I arrived and waited in reception with a group of other mums, all in the same position as me, none of us knowing, really, what to expect.

The WWL course was insightful and run by a wonderful lady called Sally, she had the experience to really give us all some good advice. I’m currently only halfway through the course, the experience so far has been amazing, I’ve met some wonderful mums who are in the same position as me, and I hope we keep in touch following the end of the course.

Part of the course is a four-week work placement, I was so nervous to find out where I would be going, as were the other mums, but I was delighted to find out my placement would be at the UWE.

I’m now in my job placement, working in the FBL.

The staff in the FBL have been so incredibly welcoming, and happy to spend time with me, considering I’m not a permanent member of staff, and will only be here for 4 weeks, the amount of time and help they’ve given me has been nothing short of wonderful, their support has really helped my experience and I am so excited about looking for a job and getting back to work, I’m not sure how encouraged I would have been if I didn’t have this support.

I’ve got new experiences that will help me in my job search, even something as simple as using outlook again, and getting back into work friendly habits. The confidence this placement has given me is worth its weight in gold.

I’m so thankful to everyone in both the FBL and the WWL, without them I would probably still be at home trying to figure out the best pathway for me to return to work, and still be around for my children.

I cannot recommend the WWL course highly enough, I’m looking forward to finishing the course with some more classroom work, but I will also be very sad to leave my placement, I really feel like part of the team.”

The Women’s Work Lab and UWE Part 1

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Camilla Rigby is the Co-Founder and Joint CEO of Women’s Work Lab (WWL), a Community Interest Company with the stated aim to support under-represented women aged 25+ to fulfil their career potential and become work ready. The WWL aims to unlock potential and lay the foundations for a brighter future for the mums they work with. Outcomes for participants include new careers, positive role modelling for their families and communities and the creation of a vital support network. Camilla was virtually reintroduced to UWE when they were looking for a venue to host the Spring 2022 South Gloucestershire programme.  

The mission of WWL is in line with UWE’s core values and as a UWE alumni, we were keen to support Camilla with her endeavours. Camilla studied Business Studies, completing in 2004.  

“I enjoyed my time studying at UWE and today, as a regional hub for business, and an educational provider with enterprise, community and industry partnership at its heart, UWE seemed like the perfect place to inspire our participants.” 

“Completing my Business Studies degree really opened my eyes to what the real world of work could look like. My year-long work placement provided an amazing springboard for my career and I managed to land my first job before I’d even graduated! I am still in touch with many friends from UWE days and it’s great to see how many have followed entrepreneurial pathways. ” 

The WWL programme includes bespoke classroom training, 1-2-1 support, skills training, practical career support and a four-week work placement. During 2022, 90 women will be supported in this way across six programmes taking place in the local city/ region.  

Before Co-Founding the WWL with Rachel Mostyn in 2019, Camilla had a 15 year career in senior communications roles for household brands including Dyson & OVO Energy. As a Mum to two boys aged 9 & 11 (one who is autistic), she understands first-hand the challenges that Mums can face trying to support her family alongside work.  

“My inspiration in co-founding WWL came back in 2016 when I felt unable to juggle the pressures of work and a young family; I felt like a failure to be honest. I recognised at the same time the privilege I had and began to question how much harder it must be for women who don’t have a decent support network, or lots of work experience. I was fortunate enough to meet Rachel during this time of reflection and we began to research what was available for Mums that were unemployed and in receipt of state benefits. Turns out very little and so we set about co-designing the programme with Mums from across the City into what we have now. We’re proud to have worked with over 100 womens on their journeys back towards work, whilst building an amazing team of women who really connect and inspire the Mums we support.” 

UWE has been proud to host this inspiring initiative and work with the local community to improve outcomes for mothers who have been challenged in some way in terms of securing work. This programme really aligns with our Strategy 2030 in boosting our economy and supporting the local and regional community, and has massive societal impact which is so rewarding and essential for continued growth and success. 

“We feel as though this is just the beginning for the Women’s Work Lab. Having started in early 2020, covid has unsurprisingly hampered what we’ve been able to achieve. That said, in 2021 we know that 60% of the women we supported are now working; this is testament to their hard work and determination. It also shows why specialist employability support is so needed and it’s amazing to have the support of employers like UWE in helping these women to fulfil their potential.” 

If you would be interested in finding out more about the work of WWL, you can find additional information via their website here

UWE Bristol houses UK’s first on-campus aeroponic grow system for student business

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A vertical farming system, set up on Frenchay campus using aeroponic technology to grow and supply micro herbs and baby leaf plants, is the first of its kind to be located at a UK university. The system is being used by student venture Greener Greens Co, which Jamie Taylor founded as part of his Team Entrepreneurship degree.

The 40ft container farm, supplied by LettusGrow, provides 24m2 of growing area and houses a four-tiered vertical grow-bed. The growing process uses a software that automates LED lighting, temperature and water vapour. Nutrients are delivered to the plants via atomisers that spray an organic, nutrient-dense fog onto exposed roots (a technique called ‘aeroponics’).

Greener Greens’ plants are to include petit arugula, pea shoots, coriander, basil, pak choy and other small sprouting plants like micro broccoli, which take 11-30 days to reach full height. During this time, cycle pH levels, humidity and organic nutrient levels are automatically regulated.

Jamie Taylor said: “Nature is seasonal, but in this container farm we create our own climate to produce seasonal produce all year round. This is a really innovative system that uses no soil, no pesticides, with crop yields using 95 per cent less water and 99% less space compared to conventional land-based farming.”

The entrepreneur said Greener Greens’ ethos is to have a lower carbon footprint compared to other suppliers and, by providing a growth area close to the point of need, reduce food transportation miles. It is also reducing a reliance on single unit plastic by using re-usable containers to transport the plants.

Team Entrepreneurship is a degree that helps students set up a business as a team. Jamie said: “All this has only been achievable thanks to the University. Key support from UWE Bristol’s enterprise, estates, environmental and sustainability, and catering teams has been crucial in working out how to run the business and how to introduce Greener Greens produce into the university’s supply chain.”

The system is set to produce some 200kg of pea shoots per month, as this plant variety has a short grow cycle of just 12 days. Initially the vegetables will supply the University and other local customers. The enterprise then plans to set up further containers, supplying the super yacht business. “Head chefs on board need high quality produce fast so we have an opportunity to reduce carbon footprint in this industry by setting up a container in the South of France.

“Many existing suppliers to that industry use pesticides and the produce is sometimes flown over 5000 miles to Nice, which leaves a large carbon footprint.”

Greener Greens is also building a geo-temporal inventory app that will allow its customers to see what is growing in which container, so they can place orders and receive fresher produce faster. The app will also allow chefs, for the first time ever, to specify the size and shape of their salads and garnishes in-app and create bespoke garnishes.

Jamie and his Greener Greens system set up on Frenchay campus was featured in yesterday evening’s edition of the BBC’s Countryfile, available to view on iPlayer (from 29:51).

Top 5 tips to engage with your employees

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Interview with Dr Gareth Edwards, Associate Professor of Leadership Development

Gareth Edwards Headshot

Dr Gareth Edwards is an expert in dispersed leadership from a community perspective and leadership development.

Gareth recently chaired the ‘Unlocking Performance through Employee Engagement’ Conference at the Bristol Business School. The event was focused on harnessing people’s skills and resources to boost productivity and save costs. There was also a focus on creating and sustaining employee engagement during challenging times.

Here, Gareth gives us his top 5 tips for engaging with your employees:

1. Make sure that you have a two-way conversation with organisational colleagues. It’s not enough to just open a dialogue or enter into a consultation. Employees need to feel like they’ve been part of a meaningful conversation and that their ideas have been discussed and explored. The decisions need to be strategic but with input from employees at all levels.

2. Consider the links to your organisations history. Include in the engagement dialogue a commentary about the purpose of the organisation and how this ties into current strategy and planning. Some firms have an innate family feel, others less so, but there is always a way to connect back to the roots of a company and explore engagement through heritage.

3. Think about the links between leadership and engagement. Good practice would warrant elements of distributed leadership whereby you recognise and reward examples of teams leading themselves within the organisation. It’s important to let this happen organically and promote excellence positively.

4. There is definitely something to consider around the subject of culture. There is no ‘right’ culture but it’s vital to recognise the importance that some people attach to this. Think about your organisation’s culture, how people reflect on this and link best practice to core values and behaviours.

5. Most importantly, have fun! Employees work hard and that should be recognised and encouraged, alongside social activities and a family friendly ethos. Things such as Away Days should have strategic and planning focuses, but some time should equally be spent on social activities. Things can be too formulaic, so try to find the right balance.

If you’d like to read more about leadership and engagement read the CITB’s snapshot report on ‘Building engagement: Encouraging leadership in construction’.

Kick start your 2019 with an Executive Education short course from UWE Bristol

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Looking for a new challenge in 2019? Or simply want to learn something new? As a new year’s treat, we have early bird discounts on several of our executive education short courses.

Below we’ve included some information on some of the courses but there are loads more on our website

Coaching and Mentoring (ILM Level 5 and 7) 

Aimed at anyone who undertakes coaching and/or mentoring in their workplace, this short course is ideal for managers with significant responsibility for coaching and mentoring as part of their day-to-day role working with employees and colleagues. It is also designed to develop learners planning to move into a development role or start a career as a freelance coach or mentor offering coaching and mentoring to people within work settings.

Next course date: February 2019. Early bird discount ends: 20 January. Find out more here.

Professional Certification in Digital Marketing

Whether you are a business owner who wants to improve online engagement, a professional marketer, or a complete beginner, this certification will provide you with an introduction to key digital specialisms, from mobile and social media marketing, to email, PPC and SEO.

Validated by the Digital Marketing Institute, the certification is delivered here in Bristol by experienced academics and consultants who apply our expertise and cutting-edge thinking with a practical focus

Next course date: February 2019. Early bird discount ends: 16 January. Find out more here

New Leaders Programme (ILM Level 3)

Our New Leaders Programme is an exciting interactive course blending theoretical knowledge with practical skills, designed to give those new to management or looking to obtain their first line management qualification the core skills needed to succeed in a role as an effective team manager. You will be given the space to work closely with your course peers and to explore real life examples of your management practice.

Structured over a four month period the programme offers you the opportunity to take away learning from the training sessions to apply in your workplace; in addition to the opportunity to reflect on and assess your impact as a manager.

Next course date: March 2019. Early bird discount ends: 22 January. Find out more here

Finance for Non-Financial Managers

 As a decision-maker in a small or medium sized business you can use financial information to resolve problems and improve performance. This programme will provide you with the basic skills and understanding of how to do this.

This programme is specifically designed for managers and supervisors who need a basic understanding of the principles of finance, those new to a role with responsibility for financial control, or anyone working with finance and accounting staff.   

Next course date: March 2019 Early bird discount ends: 28 January. Find out more here

Design Thinking for Managers

Design Thinking has emerged as a human-centred, creative and robust approach to solving problems and identifying opportunities in business and social contexts.

Rooted in the creative strategies that professional designers use in the process of designing products and/or services, Design Thinking is an approach without boundaries. Everybody is creative given the right process to ‘unlock’ their creativity and provide an alternative mindset in approaching a challenge.

This highly practical programme will introduce you to Design Thinking as a process for finding new, relevant and transformative solutions that create a positive impact

Next course date: April 2019. Early bird discount ends: 6 February. Find out more here

Successful Events Management

This highly practical course focuses on utilising the potential power of events to achieve personal, organisational and social outcomes for both the public and private sectors.  It explores the purpose of events and how event managers can develop appropriate experiences for their intended audiences and clients.

This course is purposely designed to immerse you in developing event ideas, pitching concepts and designing research to capture event outcomes.  The course will incorporate a site visit within Bristol as part of a fieldwork activity relating to event design.

Next course date: April 2019. Early bird discount ends: 6 February. Find out more here

Case Study: Empowering women through mentoring

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Sue Durbin and  Empowering women through mentoring.

Written by Jeremy Allen:

In the UK, there is a distinct lack of women in engineering roles and this is prevalent in the aerospace and aviation industries. A project led by UWE Bristol that is four years in the making is helping women to move up the career ladder and to seek support by receiving mentoring from other women in the industry. This work hopes to change the way females are perceived in male-dominated industries and aims to put an end to gender inequality in engineering.

“The UK is the country in Europe that has the least amount of women in engineering and this includes the aerospace industry, where there is a chronic shortage of females,” says project leader Professor Sue Durbin, whose research specialises in gender inequalities in employment in male dominated industries. “Through this project, we want to empower women to gain confidence by receiving non-judgemental female-to-female advice and support, thereby enabling their careers to take off.”

Called ‘alta’, the project enables professional women to access an online platform to help them link up with a suitable female mentor. Based on their answers to online questions, the website’s algorithm then matches up the mentee with the most compatible mentor.

Volunteering mentors are also required to answer questions on the platform to determine whether they have the right skills and personality to oversee someone else’s career development. As well as helping women receive career guidance, alta is beneficial for the mentors, as it helps raise their profile in the profession.

After initial contact, both parties are free to arrange when, where and how often they meet, although they are advised to meet for one to two hours every six weeks.

Under the aegis of the Royal Aeronautical Society, alta is working with Airbus, the Royal Air Force and other partners across the aerospace industry. By signing up to alta and paying a small joining fee, companies can help their female professionals receive mentoring from across the industry – not just from someone in their company.

Such assistance can help women feel valued, to assist them in getting into leadership positions, and increase female retention in the industry. It might also help them gain confidence, receive assistance when they are returning to work after a maternity break, or reduce their suffering from ‘impostor syndrome,’ whereby they feel they don’t deserve to thrive in a male-dominated workplace.

“If we take the Royal Aeronautical Society, it has 25,000 members but just 1700 are women, while in the UK only four percent of pilots are women,” says Professor Durbin. “This puts a lot of pressure on women working in the industry.”

The mentoring project comes at a time when many young women who take STEM subjects are failing to enter the engineering workforce, given the gender stereotyping that can exist in the sector. Professional women engineers also often drop out of the industry or fail to return after maternity leave. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as a “leaky pipeline,” a metaphor used to describe the continuous loss of women in STEM as they climb the career ladder.

Prior to alta’s launch in June 2018, the team organised focus groups, interviews and a survey to decide how the scheme could help professional women in the aerospace and aviation industry. After contacting 250 women, they discovered that existing mentoring was extremely limited in the industry and often did not include women as mentors. They also discovered that women were actively seeking female mentors in senior positions.

“You can’t be who you can’t see,” says Stella Warren, who is Research Associate in the Bristol Leadership and Change Centre and also works on the project. “If you don’t have a female mentor who is a leader in the industry, it is hard to aspire to reaching that same level.”

One mentee who has received mentoring through alta says it has really helped boost her self-belief.

Guest blog post: A student representatives’ perspective of the Times Higher Education awards ceremony

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Guest author: Mia Collins, 3rd Year Business and Management Student 

Currently in my final year of studying Business and Management, I have been fortunate enough to represent the department as its Lead Department Representative and the Finance, Business and Law faculty as its Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Committee member. These roles have demonstrated huge benefits to my educational and professional development, yet, the most monumental opportunity the positions have brought me is attending the Times Higher Education Awards in London. As a typical student does, I have had significant exposure to Bristol’s nightlife – but none of them compare to the night I had at the awards ceremony.

The night began on, rather, a stressful start; having only 1 hour to get to get ‘black tie’ ready, I was under significant pressure– for those who know me well enough, will understand exactly the level of stress I mean. Despite this, I was immensely excited. We ventured over to the JV Marriott Grovesnor House in London, where we were met with bubbly and snacks. Walking into the reception room, in itself, was an experience; everyone had gone above and beyond with their appearance and looked fantastic. Before the night had really began, this was a great opportunity for me to get to know the people who facilitate the day to day operations of UWE; as a team of 14 (2 being myself and Lily Liu, the only students in attendance), were able to get to know the likes of Steve West, Donna Whitehead and lot more. Before one too many glasses of prosecco, we got a #teamUWE picture:

(Don’t we scrub up well!)

After a chatter and a social, we were taken into the main awards hall. Merely walking towards the hall, you are greeted by the most amazing floor imaginable (see below). From the onset, everything about the night was glamourous. Once we (eventually) found our tables, we sat down to a starter of crispy salt cod fritter (essentially, the fanciest fish finger ever), followed by slow braised beef short rib with vegetables, finishing off with a Greek yoghurt tart and petits fours – yum.

As time went on, the more nervous we all became, and before we knew it, our category was up next. We had thankfully been shortlisted, for the second year in a row, Business School of the Year and were up against some intense competition. The category was announced… UWE’s participation was mentioned… a huge cheer from all of our 3 tables… on the very edge of our seats…the winner was announced… and THEN, ah. ESCP Europe Business School were awarded the winners of 2018. Despite not winning, this year(!), we didn’t lose spirit. We were up for Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration. Again, we didn’t quite get it this time; we did, however, receive a special commendation for our efforts. Not all bad, eh?

The night didn’t end there – a disco was to follow. Thankfully, we were sat the closest to the stairs, so UWE were the first to get to the dancefloor. I must add, we took over the ENTIRE dance floor, truly a UWE takeover. The night didn’t purely involve partying, it was a great opportunity for me to develop my networking skills and get to meet some senior figures from all across the country – one in particular, the Sponsorship Director of the Times Higher Education awards. After hours of singing our hearts – out at the very top of our lungs – lunging and squatting(?) to the beat and showing the other universities why UWE really are the best, the disco came to an end – it takes a lot of skill and endurance to be the FIRST and LAST ones on the dancefloor, but we executed it so well.

We got back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning and, with no voice left and feet in agony from high heels, we sat in the lobby, each with our takeaway laughing and chatting until it was time for bed.

The night as an entity was phenomenal, I am incredibly grateful to be 1 of the 2 students fortunate enough to attend. I’ve not only taken away great memories from it but have also made great relationships with senior staff whom I would never usually have the opportunity meet. A huge thank you to everyone who facilitated the evening and made it as incredible as it was. Every day I am more and more honoured to represent UWE and everything we achieve. Bring on Business School of the Year 2019!

Below are a few photos from the evening:

Case study: Eliminating Uncertainties and Improving Productivity in Mega Projects using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Lukumon Oyedele and the power of big data in relation to Mega Projects. 

Written by Jeremy Allen:

A series of projects at the Bristol Business School combining cutting-edge digital technologies could potentially revolutionise the way industry tackles management of Mega Projects at the bidding stage. These innovative technologies include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Virtual Reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).

Professor Lukumon Oyedele and his team of developers have created software that harnesses the power of big data and artificial intelligence to help companies accurately plan and execute Mega Projects (large-scale, complex ventures that typically cost hundreds of millions of pounds).

The software uses advanced analytics to predict a whole range of complex project parameters such as three-points estimates, tender summaries, cash flow, project plans, risks, innovations, opportunities, as well as health and safety incidents.

The project, whose flagship simulation tool is called Big-Data-BIM, is part of a partnership with leading UK construction contractor Balfour Beatty, to help it plan better power infrastructure projects involving the construction of overhead lines, substations and underground cabling. By using the software, the company is able to improve productivity and maximise profit margins.

“When planning a tender for a project, companies often plan for a profit of 10 to 15 percent, but on finishing the project, many struggle to make two percent profit margin,” says Professor Oyedele, who is Assistant Vice-Chancellor and Chair Professor of Enterprise and Project Management.

“The reason is that there are many unseen activities, which are hard to capture during the early design stage. Besides, the design process itself is non-deterministic. This is why when you ask two quantity surveyors how much a project is likely to cost; they often produce different figures.

“With Big-Data-BIM, we are bringing in objectivity to plan the projects and taking care of uncertainties by engaging advanced digital technologies, so that a tender estimate remains accurate until project completion, with minimal deviation from what was planned at the beginning.”

The tool taps into 20 years of Balfour Beatty’s data on power infrastructure projects and learns predictive models that inform the most optimal decisions for executing the given work. The tool informs the business development team at the beginning of the project whether it is likely to succeed or fail.

One of the functions of the software is to create a 3D visual representation of project routes to understand complexity, associated risks (like road and river crossings) and opportunities (such as shared yards and local suppliers). For this purpose, the software taps into Google Maps data and integrates data from the British Geological Survey and Ordnance Survey to discover automatically the number of roads, rivers, and rail crossings.

The tool performs extensive geospatial analysis to find out the optimal construction route and measure distances between route elements with a high degree of accuracy. “This all happens within a twinkle of an eye. Without leaving your office, you can determine the obstacles on the planned route of the cables, or whether there is a river in the way,” says Professor Oyedele.

By mining the huge datasets of health and safety incidents, the software can also determine what kind of injuries might occur on a project, and even produce a detailed analysis of the most probable body parts that could be prone to injury. This can help prepare an accurate health and safety risk assessment before the work begins.

The software provides an intuitive dashboard called “Opportunity on a page” where all predictions are visualised to facilitate data-driven insights for designers to make critical planning decisions.

As a contractor, Balfour Beatty uses the tool to enable it to submit the best bids to clients so that it can have a high chance of winning them. The software is also set to be provided for other industries carrying out linear projects. These are to include water distribution networks, and the rail, roads, as well as oil and gas sectors.

 

Case study: Shaping minimum wage policy

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Featured Researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. This case study looks at Professor Felix Ritchie’s research on the minimum wage.

Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Research conducted at Bristol Business School on the UK’s minimum wage has significantly influenced how the government sets its rates for entry-level pay. By helping shape policy decisions, and redesigning some national surveys about pay, the work has led to direct impact on the wider community.

“Wage levels are extremely important – the difference of a few pence on a wage may be negligible to an employer, but for someone on the breadline working 40 hours per week, this can make a big difference,” says Dr Felix Ritchie who leads the research.

Dr Ritchie is Director of the University’s Bristol Centre for Economics and Finance (BCEF) and is an authority on non-compliance with the minimum wage in the UK and on the quality and use of labour market data.

He and UWE Bristol colleagues Dr Hilary Drew and Dr Helen Mortimore (both Human Resource Management experts) have worked extensively with the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the Low Pay Commission (LPC). Their work has looked to establish whether results from national surveys on minimum wage paint a true picture of the minimum wage landscape. This in turn allows governments to monitor more accurately how the rate affects employment.

The team has discovered that survey results on minimum wage often do not tell the whole story. Based on statistical analysis and interviews, they have found that both employers and employees tend to round up or reduce rates to the nearest whole number when answering survey questions about pay.

This means that a wage set at, say, £7.05 can lead employees to report it as £7 on a survey, which inaccurately implies employer non-compliance. And if the wage level is below a whole number (e.g. £6.93), the employer tends to round up the figure, meaning statistics inaccurately show a higher number of employers paying over the minimum wage.

Based on these findings, Dr Ritchie and his colleagues have made a recommendation to set a rate that is easier to use in calculations. In 2014, this directly influenced the government’s decision to set the wage at £6.50, which subsequently had a direct impact on how employers reported their pay in surveys, and led to more accurate statistics.

The researchers have also found that employers who are non-compliant in paying the minimum wage – especially when remunerating apprentices – often do so unintentionally because of a lack of knowledge about wage structure. For instance, minimum wages are usually based on age, but employers are sometimes unaware that apprentices over 18 are eligible for a higher wage once they complete their first year of training.

“Apprentices trust Employers, who think they are doing the right thing but many don’t know or understand the rules. This means that if something goes wrong, there may be no mechanism for correcting errors,” explains Dr Ritchie.

The experts also found that while surveys indicated that up to 40% of apprentices appeared to be underpaid, the true figure was closer to 10-15%. Based on interviews with apprentices, the team attributed this inaccuracy to the poor survey wording. Dr Hilary Drew explains: “We found that the apprentices had problems filling information in, and we wouldn’t have known this just by looking at the statistics.”

The team therefore suggested ways to modify the questionnaire with more accessible questions so results would better represent apprentices’ knowledge of hours and pay. This was implemented in a brand new survey.

Overall, the team has developed an excellent reputation in the area of wage level statistical analysis. As a result, the LPC and other organisations often call on Dr Ritchie and colleagues as experts to comment on minimum wage policy.

Professor Felix Ritchie

Featured researcher: Professor Felix Ritchie

Felix is an applied economist with an interest in government data, labour economics, data management and security, statistical disclosure control, privacy and identification, decision-making policy in the public sector and alcohol and drugs policies.

Email: felix.ritchie@uwe.ac.uk Phone: +4411732 81319

Case study: Healthcare manufacture brought closer to home

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Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some case studies of our academic research from across the Bristol Business School. The first case study looks at Professor Wendy Philips research on redistributed manufacturing. Written by Jeremy Allen: 

Health services around the world are under pressure to deliver affordable healthcare while addressing the needs of an aging population and deliver cost-effective, right-first-time treatments close to the point-of-need.

Fortunately, innovative manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing and advanced robotics mean that in the not-too-distant future, we may be able to make medical products in our home, or have print-on-demand personalised medicines made at the supermarket while we shop. Bespoke devices such as prosthetics and orthotics could even be ordered online and delivered to our door the next day.

Paving the way for such a future is a research network called ‘Redistributed Manufacturing in Healthcare Network’ (RiHN). Led by Professor Wendy Phillips at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), RiHN has been investigating the implications and challenges involved in the Redistributed Manufacturing (RDM) of customised healthcare.

RDM is defined as technology, systems and strategies that change the economics and organisation of manufacturing, particularly in relation to location and scale. It supports smaller-scale precision manufacturing, enabling more efficient use of resources, reduced environmental impact and more resilient supply chains that are less susceptible to global shocks.

“The RiHN aims to deliver a collective vision of the research needed to position the UK at the forefront of healthcare manufacturing,” says Professor Phillips.

RiHN is the first dedicated study of RDM in healthcare and the findings have been of particular value to policy-makers and funders seeking to specify action and to direct attention where it is needed.

The team includes researchers involved in manufacturing, healthcare technologies, management and human factors from the Universities of Loughborough, Cambridge, Cranfield, Nottingham, Newcastle and UWE Bristol.

Professor Phillips and her team have produced a White Paper that explores applications in promising areas of healthcare that could benefit from RDM. The UK has a strong network of pro-active research-orientated universities, especially in the fields of medical research and manufacturing engineering, and the UK is well-positioned to become a world leader in this type of manufacturing.

One practical application for this type of manufacturing is likely to be in locations where there is an acute and urgent need for medical supplies, for example during humanitarian crises, natural disasters or even in conflict zones. The first hours are critical for saving lives or reducing the chances of debilitating conditions; this new model of manufacturing could enable rapid diagnosis, production and testing in remote conditions.

As advocated by the 2017 Industrial Strategy Fund, RDM presents an opportunity to shape new industrial capabilities, attract international talent, and advance new science and manufacturing capability. It can also incentivise investments in infrastructure and exploit the potential of digital innovation. Future research and investment in RDM is likely to improve health outcomes for patients and ultimately benefit the UK economy.

 

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