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Activating Employers

The Activating Employers project asks how governments can encourage employers to create “good jobs” in low-wage, high-growth sectors, through a comparison of government regulation, policymaking and behavioural incentivisation in the UK, the US and Australia.

Industries Researched & Compared Across 3 Countries

Social Care

Social Care

    The post-economic crisis landscape has seen tightening budgets combined with governments placing an emphasis on delivering contracts based on cost-first principles. Add this to the global economic shocks of the pandemic and instability in Europe, there has been a growing crisis in sectors which rely on government procurement.

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Construction Industry

Construction Industry

    The construction industry is one of the leading beneficiaries of government procurement spending, and Compared to other sectors there are often clear pathways to progression for workers. In some U.S. states, Trade Unions and community agreements ensure apprenticeship programs, distinguishing it from other industries.

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Introduction to the Project

Activating Employers in 1 Minute

In this short video, Anne Daguerre provides a brief overview of Activating Employers and the effect this research will have on real-world policies and employment opportunities.

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Project Outputs


The project plans to submit results of each phase of research in 3/4* academic journals in addition to think pieces in practitioner-focused publications, policy recommendation papers and a study conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies.


Field work, in the form of localised case studies in the UK, the US and Australia will be recorded and made available here. Videos will allow viewers to hear the authentic voices of practitioners in the public contracting space and learn directly from those conducting best practices.


PDF versions of presentations made at academic, practitioner and policy focused conferences throughout the lifespan of the project will be made available as a resource for all interested parties.


Recorded interviews from the project and podcasts with stakeholders in the public contracting field will allow for a more complete understanding of issues within public contracting and employment. These will provide valuable insight into best practices and potential avenues for government policymaking.

Three Countries

United Kingdom

Since 2010, the UK has faced unprecedented political and economic upheavals, some of which it has shared with other liberal market economies, and some which have been wholly unique. The upshot of all these developments, such as the global financial crisis and cost of living crisis, has been a pressure on government to cut spending, while trying to improve national productivity and worker participation rates which have stagnated in recent years.


Social security is delivered in Australia at Commonwealth government through Centrelink under Services Australia, which has over 300 offices across the country. The Commonwealth government commissions employment programs for delivery across Australia. The six states and two territories are at liberty to commission their own individual employment programs to fill gaps in Commonwealth-commissioned services.

United States

The United States, comprised of 50 states (and the district of Columbia) has a vast array of different welfare to work programmes operating at the federal, state, county and city level. While there have been two changes of administration since 2010, and large-scale government spending through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act under President Trump and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill under President Biden.

Houses of Parliment, Westminster
Parliament House, Canberra
Capitol Building, Washington DC

Our Funder

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.

The Activating Employers project is generously supported by a £481,309 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (grant number ES/X000583/1).


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Latest Project News

What Works in Supporting Good Work?
Mar 6, 2024

What Works in Supporting Good Work?

The Activating Employers project announces the completion of a commissioned report conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). The report provides a groundbreaking cross-national comparison of employment support services in the UK, the US and Australia, sets out existing models of best practice within each country and provides important next steps in terms of where national level policymaking focus in the future.