The APPG for 'left behind' neighbourhoods was active between June 2020 and March 2024. This website will no longer be updated.

In this session we will focus on employment, skills and education, examining the related challenges facing residents of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods and delving into practical policy initiatives that have the potential to resolve them.

Research from Local Trust highlights how educational attainment was already lower in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods than other areas before the pandemic, with previously only 43 per cent of young people receiving five A*-C grade GCSEs including Maths and English. It also revealed that there were fewer job opportunities – just over 50 per 200 working age adults compared to more than 88 per 100 in other deprived areas.

Informed by OCSI’s latest ‘deep dive’ research for the APPG, this session will explore what the socio-economic data also tells us about employment and training outcomes in ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods, as well as learnings from projects and initiatives that have sought to improve employment outcomes and close the educational attainment gap.

Our speakers 

Briefing pack

OCSI economic data dive for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods  
A ‘data dive’ research report for the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods into the economic characteristics of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods.

APPG Session 3 briefing   
This briefing provides members of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods with an overview of the economic characteristics of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. Drawing on the latest research and recent ‘data dive’ commissioned for the APPG, it highlights the issues these communities face in order to help identify the best ways to support them.



  • This isn’t working: reimagining employment support for people facing complex disadvantage. New Local (2020). Looking at the barriers faced by people with complex disadvantage to finding work, this report uses lessons from the most effective responses to the COVID-19 crisis to highlight the value of locally coordinated responses to the challenges facing communities. It shows that with better collaboration between local government, public services, the third sector, businesses and communities, people facing complex disadvantage can have access to the high quality employment support that they deserve.
  • Productivity, place and poverty: place-based policies to reduce poverty and increase productivity. Centre for Social Justice (2018). This research highlights the vast inequalities in productivity and wealth throughout regions in England. It demonstrates that this has largely been the results of economic policies which regard major cities and urban clusters as the primary drivers of economic growth, to the expense of suburban-rural communities. Going forward, it recommends a series of place-based initiatives to boost job and business growth at the local level.
  • Work local: on developing a modern, local, public employment and skills service. Learning and Work Institute (2017). This report builds upon Local Government Association’s framework for making employment and skills provision more responsive to local needs. It contains a detailed proposal for the devolution of employment support for the most disadvantaged and of skills funding for adults in addition to a more locally integrated approach to jobs brokerage for the unemployed.
  • Spatial inequality and skills in a changing economy. UK Commission for Employment and Skills (2011). Noting that traditional policies to address spatial inequality and enhance employability and skills have not considered the importance of place, this report highlights that policy interventions must focus on sub-regional market circumstances if they are to be effective. One key recommendation is for greater local partnership working to design and deliver complementary services – across skills, health, housing, transport etc – to support those most excluded from the local labour market.


  • Reskilling for recovery: equipping the nation for tomorrow’s economy. Centre for Progressive Policy (2020). CPP’s most recent report on skills pinpoints three challenges the skills system faces within the context of the economic recovery from COVID-19. Place-based inequality in skills is one of those challenges, including both a regional and local divide in access to skills development and formal qualifications. A range of place-based recommendations are made, including improved skills matching based on the nature of local economies.
  • Can training help workers change their stripes? Retraining and career change in the UK. Resolution Foundation (2020). Using data from the Understanding Society project from 2012 to 2018, this paper aims to understand the relationship between broad types of education and training and the likelihood of a person either re-entering the labour market or changing industry for career development. Evidence shows that training can help adults bounce back into the labour market, however; the current crisis throws up additional challenges.
  • Post-18 education: who is taking different routes and how much do they earn? Centre for Vocational Education Research (2020). This report maps the educational trajectories and labour market outcomes for young people, following them through their schooling and into their early careers. It shows that all higher-level qualifications appear to lead to better earnings outcomes.
  • An unequal playing field: extra-curricular activities, soft skills and social mobility. Social Mobility Commission (2019). This report highlights disparities in children’s participation rates across a wide range of extra-curricular activities, highlighting that disadvantaged children are least represented, therefore face barriers in developing ‘soft skills’ essential to succeeding in later life.
  • The Augur Review. Department for Education (2019). This in-depth review of the post-18 education in the UK highlights key flaws and challenges in the system. Notably, this includes the lack of funding and flexibility in post-18 qualifications beyond a full-time three-year degree course. It notes that the constraints on part-time and older students to take part in Further Education courses disproportionately affects those from disadvantaged areas, who have lower levels of participation in higher education and are more likely to be juggling multiple commitments alongside education or training.
  • Skills for inclusive growth. Centre for Progressive Policy (2018). This report shows that there are significant local variations in skills outcomes – leading to polarised labour markets across England. Those local authority areas with low average qualification levels tend to have a high proportion of their workforce earning at or below the national living wage. Drawing on lessons from Denmark and Sweden, it closes with a set of key place-based recommendations to upskill those workers who lack sufficient skill development opportunities.


  • The long shadow of deprivation: differences in opportunities across England. Social Mobility Commission (2020). This report highlights that where you grow up matters –there are large differences across areas in both the adult pay of disadvantaged sons and the size of the pay gap for sons from deprived families, relative to those from affluent families. Exploring this educational attainment gap in the context of place, it shows that the picture is more complex than north versus south, urban versus rural; in fact, inequalities exist between local areas, side by side.
  • Social mobility and COVID-19: implications of the COVID-19 crisis for educational inequality.
    Sutton Trust (2020). This early impact research shows that the most disadvantaged young people are likely to be most impacted by the short-term and long-term repercussions of the COVID-19 crisis. In the long term, the economic impact is thought to have a profound impact on social mobility, with the damage caused leading to fewer job opportunities, which will in turn fuel greater inequality of opportunity.
  • Closing the regional attainment gap. APPG on Social Mobility (2018). This report highlights the attainment gap – the gap in school exam results between pupils from different social backgrounds – as one of the key challenges in our education system. The focus is on regional disparities, but it also covers the importance of place in closing the attainment gap, ensuring that interventions are targeted at the local level and involve collaboration across schools and communities.