Employer Engagement in Active Labour Market Programmes

Create knowledge. Make an impact.

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Research overview

Helping unemployed people to obtain work is of critical concern for both public policy and society. 'Active labour market', or 'Welfare to Work' programmes have a key role to play in addressing this, as do employers. Employer engagement in active labour market programmes are under-explored and we know little about how the organisations which deliver these programmes interact with employers. The research will address that gap by exploring these 'inter-organisational relations' in the UK and Denmark.

Research approach

The study involves two main phases of data collection in both countries. Phase 1 comprises of quantitative surveys of employers. Phase 2 will involve in-depth local area qualitative case studies of the interactions between employers and delivery organisations. The project aims to:

  • Contribute new data and insights about how the configurations of organisations and contracting modes in the UK and Denmark affect employer engagement.
  • Bring an inter-organisational perspective into policy analysis to theorise the nature, outcomes and effectiveness of the relations between employers and welfare to work organisations.
  • Produce a conceptual tool for studying welfare to work policies by developing a comparative typology of employer engagement.
  • Inform the design and delivery of 'Welfare to Work' programmes, in order to improve their effectiveness and encourage the best use of public money.

The project is funded for three years (2013-2016) by the Economic and Social Research Council Future Research Leaders programme.

Research team

Dr Jo Ingold (Principal Investigator)
Jo is a lecturer in Human Resource Management and Public Policy in the Work and Employment Relations Division, Leeds University Business School and a member of the Centre for Employment Relations Innovation and Change (CERIC).

Her research interests include active labour market programmes in comparative context, the intersection of care, work and welfare and policy learning between countries. She has previously worked in the voluntary sector and held posts in the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Education and Skills. She has published in journals such as Work, Employment and Society and Journal of European Social Policy.

Danat Valizade (Lecturer in Quantitative Methods)
Danat is a Lecturer in Quantitative Methods in CERIC and his research interests are centred on contemporary changes in employee representation, behavioural aspects of labour negotiations and on the role of social dialogue in the development of workplace and labour market policies. Prior to joining CERIC he worked in the trade union movement and occupied various positions at the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia.

Professor Mark Stuart (Mentor)
Mark Stuart is Montague Burton Professor of Human Resource Management and Employment Relations and Director of CERIC. His research interests focus on the dynamics of organisational restructuring and skill formation, trade union strategy and change and the modernisation of employment relations.

Since 2001, Mark has won and led awards totalling circa 2 million pounds, including from the European Commission, European Parliament, Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, the Economic and Social Research Council, International Labour Office, ACAS, TUC and numerous trade unions.

He has published over 65 journal articles and book chapters, over 45 reports, monographs and miscellaneous articles and presented papers at conferences and workshops in over 20 countries. He is currently the Joint Editor-in-Chief of Work, Employment and Society and the President of the British Universities Industrial Relations Association.

Advisory board

The project advisory board comprises a range of external stakeholders from the UK and Denmark. Its terms of reference are:

  • To provide expert advice as and when required throughout the project, particularly in relation to pertinent developments in policy and practice.
  • To advise on maximising the impact of the research for stakeholders, including policymakers, practitioners, the media and the general public.
  • To read and comment on outputs from the research, such as policy reports.
  • To attend the project's research dissemination events - two are currently planned for the duration of the project


Chair: Dr Jo Ingold (Principal Investigator for project, University of Leeds, UK)

Jørgen Bang Petersen, Dansk Arbejdsgiverforening (Danish Confederation of Employers)

Victoria Butcher, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (UK)

Lone Englund, KL (Local Government, Denmark)

Mark Goldstone, Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce (UK)

David Hedegaard Andersen, LO (Danish Confederation of Trade Unions)

Alex Metcalfe, Federation of Small Businesses (UK)

Dixie Potter, West Yorkshire Combined Authority (UK)

Tim Thomas, EEF (the manufacturers’ organization, UK)

Jakob Tietge, Dansk Erhverv (Danish Chamber of Commerce)

Danat Valizade (University of Leeds, UK)

Damien Smith, Department for Work and Pensions (UK)

Paul Warner, Association of Employment and Learning Providers (UK)

Tom Wilson, Trades Union Congress (UK)


Sam Windett, Employment Related Services Association (UK)

Research outputs

Interim Report (for IntoWork Convention, 2016): Employer engagement in employment and skills programmes int he UK and Denmark: focus on disabled people 

Policy Report:Employer engagement in active labour market policies in the UK and Denmark: a survey of employers

Executive summary (2017): Employer engagement in active labour market programmes

Final report (2017): Employer engagement in active labour market programmes in the UK and Denmark