Tag Archives: Alison-Fuller

Five years into Work Futures

We established the Work Futures Research Centre in December 2008 with four co-directors: Professor Susan Halford, Professor Pauline Leonard, Professor Alison Fuller, and Professor Catherine Pope.  Originally supported by the Research Strategy sub-committee of the School of Social Sciences, a year later WFRC became a University Strategic Research Group.

Our objectives are :

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† To build a collaborative, interdisciplinary network for academic research on changing forms of work organisation, workforce change, development and learning, and employment

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† To improve links with employers, policy makers, and other stakeholders outside ¬†the University¬† to strengthen Work Futures research

–¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† To inform and influence the agenda for research on Work Futures and position the University of Southampton as a leading centre for this research

Since 2008 members of our WFRC network have raised in excess of £4.5m in funding across 21 research  projects linked to our priorities. Our research has led to over 30 research papers and contributed to different Units of Assessment in the University’s REF2014 submission.

Recent successes include a commissioned scoping study for ESRC, on the ‚ÄėNew Dynamics of Working‚Äô which will inform research strategy for this major funder. Pauline Leonard and Susan Halford were also ¬†recipients of funding from the inaugural PublicPolicy@Southampton project which led to a symposium at the House of Commons on ‚ÄėGender Equality at Work: How far have we come and how far have we got to go?‚Äô in 2013.

WFRC members developed an innovative undergraduate curriculum module ‚ÄėWork and Employment Theory in Practice‚Äô and delivered a multidisciplinary seminar series with the Digital Economy USRG focussed on the role of technology in school-to-work transition.

In September 2013, Alison Fuller left the University of Southampton to take up a new post at the Institute of Education at the University of London ESRC Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies. Alison remains a key collaborator in WFRC and Professor Peter Griffiths has joined us as a co-director. Peter is based in Faculty of Health Sciences and brings further expertise on workforce configuration and organisational policy in health sector to the Centre. Peter is currently working on a major review for NICE about staff-patient ratios in the NHS.

Recognising the role and contribution of the intermediate level workforce in healthcare

In the wake of the scandal about healthcare standards at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust laid out in the Francis Report , the debate about the regulation and registration of the healthcare support workforce has been ratcheted up. The Times journalist Camilla Cavendish has been asked to undertake an independent review  in to the training and support of healthcare assistants, reporting to Government by the end of May 2013.


In this context a new report by members of the Work Futures Research Centre undertaken in collaboration with colleagues at the ESRC LLAKES Centre at the Institute of Education, London argues that the binary division between so called ‚Äėqualified‚Äô staff such as nurses, midwives, radiographers and healthcare scientists and ‚Äėunqualified‚Äô support staff is unhelpful and inaccurate.

Instead it reveals the increasingly important contribution being made to patient care by ‚Äėintermediate‚Äô level staff positioned between ‚Äėregistered professional‚Äô and ‚Äėsemi-skilled‚Äô grades. It concludes that policy has been silent on the role of intermediate level workers in relation to patient safety, and asks whether there could be distinctive expectations about their contribution. It is clear that all healthcare staff have a role to play in patient safety and high standards of care.

The project, commissioned by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation has recently been completed and the final report is available to download here.

Key Findings

The research looked at intermediate level work in a range of occupational fields including midwifery support, radiography support, dental technicians, and healthcare science. Of special interest was the education and training of different professional groups and the thorny issue of registration.  The project explored the views of a wide range of stakeholders and found that more accurate data on and better understanding of the roles undertaken by the intermediate workforce across the healthcare is needed to:

  • Help raise its profile and visibility
  • Help policy-making bodies monitor and plan for the size and development of this group
  • Provide the basis for developing a clearer relationship and alignment between qualification pathway and occupational level
  • Review the impact of the decline in the work-based education and training route for the availability of intermediate level posts and how and by whom they are accessed
  • Capture the contribution of intermediate level staff to patient care and safety
  • Explore how the regulation and registration of intermediate workers in specific occupational areas could better support and recognise their expertise


Full details:

Final report: ‚ÄėTechnician and Intermediate Roles in the Healthcare Sector‚Äô, Alison Fuller, Jill Turbin, Lorna Unwin, David Guile and Julie Wintrup. The Gatsby Foundation, University of Southampton and the Institute of Education, London, 2013.

Contact: Professor Alison Fuller, University of Southampton

Digital technology, learner identities and school-to-work transitions

A new interdisciplinary project aims to help young people with the transition from school to work.

The project entitled Digital technology, learner identities and school-to-work transitions in England and Germany, will run from February to October 2013.

An interdisciplinary working group will explore the role of the digital technology in the formation of learner identities, learning cultures and in school-to-work transitions and a series of seminars with national and international speakers are planned. The ultimate aim remains to develop a research proposal to the Economic and Social Research Council.

Southampton Education School’s Dr Michaela Brockmann and Professor Alison Fuller, alongside Professor Susan Halford and Professor Pauline Leonard in Social Sciences, have received an award from the Faculty of Social and Human Sciences’ Strategic Interdisciplinary Research Development Fund.

Dr Michaela Brockmann is also the English partner in the large EU Leonardo-da-Vinci Project, ‚ÄėRetail Sector Competencies‚Äô (ReSeCo): Developing self and social competencies in vocational training for the retail sector, co-ordinated by Professor Matthias Pilz at the University of Cologne and involving partners in Germany, England, Poland and Italy.

This project aims to develop the personal and social competencies of young people and to help facilitate transition from school to work. One of the key outcomes will be a module handbook for use in colleges across Europe.


Contact Details:

Further details can be found on the WFRC website: www.southampton.ac.uk/wfrc/

Please contact Dr Michaela Brockmann M.Brockmann@soton.ac.uk for full details of all events.



Seminar 1: Introductory Session

Seminar 2: Practitioner Perspectives

Seminar 3: Perspectives of Employers in the Field of IT

Project details available here.