Brotherhood of St Laurence
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This paper explores the link between social disadvantage and low skill. Social disadvantage is a wide-encompassing term that embraces economic, social and even political deprivation. This review considers the prospects for people who are disadvantaged by a lack of skill and/or qualifications. A low-level of skill or educational attainment is one indicator of social disadvantage of particular significance in regard to a person?s economic and labour market status. Clearly a lack of skill is not the only factor that may disadvantage a person in the labour market and where individuals suffer from additional disadvantages such as disability, poor health or discrimination, their labour market position will be further weakened. ; A useful analogy of the labour market is to think of it as a job queue. In that queue the disadvantaged are those who are ranked towards the lower end of that labour market queue. This is defined as the group whose employment opportunities are restricted to poorly paid and routine, elementary occupations, or who are excluded from employment (either unemployed or economically inactive). A lack of skills or qualifications tends to place people at the end of the labour queue, although other characteristics (such as age, gender, or ethnic origin) will also have an impact. While low skill/no qualifications is not a conventional definition of ?disadvantage?, there is a strong association between low skills or no qualifications and those characteristics more usually seen as signalling disadvantage and which are dealt with in other equality and skills papers in the series.



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