Research Paper

City & Guilds Great Jobs

5 May 2022

Recognising the essential jobs that keep the UK working.


From refuse collectors to retail assistants, care workers to construction workers, these people who were all deemed essential or key workers during the pandemic, make up the very fabric of our nation, providing the critical services and infrastructure that communities and people rely on, day in day out.

It’s hard for any of us to predict the future in the long or short term but while we start to look over the horizon and consider how we can rebuild our economy, what’s clear is that these essential roles must sit at the heart of our post-pandemic recovery.

Our research, carried out in partnership with labour market economists Emsi Burning Glass, found that many of those businesses operating in
essential sectors are particularly badly impacted.

We surveyed 10,000 working-age people to understand their attitudes towards essential jobs. Some of the findings were surprising, while some served to reaffirm well-known and longstanding biases against these incredibly important jobs. Overall, we’ve found that whilst people value these jobs in principle, they tend not to consider essential roles as a desirable career for themselves or their children. These roles are often seen as unattractive due to their lack of flexible working practices, poor working conditions, highly-specialised skillsets and low pay.

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