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Part timers on the increase

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Part timers on the increase

Record numbers of job seekers are
drawing a blank in the search for full-time work. New analysis by the Institute
for Public Policy Research (ippr) reveals that record numbers of people working
part-time because they can’t find full-time work has reached over one million.

As full-time work has dropped by 4
percent over the last two years there has also been a substantial increase in
the number of temporary workers unable to find permanent jobs, up 40 percent
since the recession began, the highest number on record, and a 45 per cent
increase since the recession began.

Though labour market flexibility has been praised for keeping unemployment low
and many people prefer to work part-time if pay rates make it affordable, there
are an estimated 2.8 million ‘underemployed’ people (1) who are unable to earn
enough money or find secure employment. ippr puts the cost of those in
part-time work who are unable to secure full-time work at some £9bn in terms of
lost earnings and benefits.

Other
significant negative results of underemployment include there being fewer
training opportunities provided by employers to part-time workers, and a
potential negative impact on their future earnings.

Based on
the experience of the last recession, rates of people involuntarily in
part-time and temporary work could remain at the current high levels for as
long as five years before starting to fall again.

ippr’s other findings include:

  • The
    number of men in temporary jobs who can’t find permanent work has increased by
    over a half (53 per cent) since the beginning of the recession.
  • The
    number of women in part-time work who can’t find full-time work has risen by
    almost half (46 per cent) since the beginning of the recession.
  • One
    in five (22 per cent) of involuntary part-time workers is aged between 16 and
    24.
  • The
    sectors in which part-time workers have most difficulty finding full-time work
    are sales and customer services, whereas temporary workers have most difficulty
    finding permanent work in administrative and secretarial roles.

ippr is
arguing for both supply-side and demand-side policy measures to tackle the
growing problem of underemployment. On the demand side, in addition to
continued investment in apprenticeships, government should consider requiring
employers to advertise and offer more jobs on a flexible basis. Offering
flexible full-time work could help people with childcare or other
responsibilities to take up the full-time work that is available, lifting them
out of underemployment. The right to request flexible working should be
extended to all employees and be made available from day one.

On the
supply side, Jobcentre Plus and other private, public and voluntary sector
providers should look to improve employment support for workers on short-term
temporary or part-time contracts. For example, new Jobcentre Plus online
employment support could be made available to these workers to help bridge the
gap between benefits and employment and improve the likelihood of finding sustainable
work at minimal cost.

Lisa
Harker, Co-Director of ippr said: “There are going to be many priorities for
the new government but tackling the shortage of jobs and the costs of
underemployment must be high on the agenda of any recovery plan. While many
people want to work part time for family or other reasons, ippr’s analysis and
research show that a growing number of people are trapped in insecure work or
unable to work enough hours to earn a decent income.”

 

11 May 2010

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