Phil MeekinView Profile
Women, families and young people are the ones benefiting the most from the changing job market but what jobs are people doing and how are they working? The government has recently called for a study into the current working practices of the UK workforce which is likely to show big changes in the way many of us work in 2017.
When politicians talk about ordinary, hard-working people many of us think of full-time workers toiling away in the manufacturing industry or the 9-5 office brigade. However, the reality from recent figures tells a very different story – with more women and young people in work alongside those with multiple jobs – part-time, self-employed, flexible hours and zero hours contracts are becoming ever more popular.
The most recent research from the Resolution Foundation from the first quarter of 2017 shows that 81% of UK workers are employed in the services sector. There is a significant proportion of office jobs but not all of them will be full time roles while only 9% of jobs currently held by UK workers are in the manufacturing sector.
This shows a significant change in the working environment as 20 years ago the services sector made up less than three quarters of employment. Since the 90’s, the manufacturing sector has halved providing jobs for just under three millions workers in 2017.
As the jobs people are doing has changed so has the way that they are working according to the latest figures which have prompted a government-commissioned inquiry into controversial working practices. This is due to the high levels of workers on zero hours contracts currently without the stability of a full time role or guaranteed hours.
Zero hours contracts provide flexibility for many to choose the hours they want to work based on what suits them but some people feel stuck on these types of contracts with no security over hours and wages which is particularly difficult for those with families to provide for.
The inquiry is likely to recommend introducing a ‘right to request’ for those on zero hours contracts to move over to fixed term contracts. It will work much in the same way as the ‘right to request’ flexible working for full time workers and if you are rejected, your employer must have a reason for their decision.
McDonald’s already have the ‘right to request’ system in place for their workers and current uptake has been around 20% with the other 80% of their workforce preferring to work with no guaranteed hours. Dependent on the type of company and its workforce will depend entirely on how popular the ‘right to request’ option would be overall.
For women, the lack of flexible work, job stability and the continuation of the pay gap has seen a swing towards women setting themselves up with their own start-up businesses. As many women face struggles getting back into work after maternity leave or extended time off to look after their children/relatives, they are looking towards opening their own businesses as a way to create the job, pay and flexibility they require.
Most of these start up’s are in the creative sector with 134,000 businesses currently in the UK employing 192,000 people, according to Oxford Economics. They are making a £3.6 billion contribution to the UK economy and they are making good use of the digital and tech sectors with notonthehighstreet.com reporting that 89% of their partners are small creative businesses, usually with only one or two people on board.
As the job market becomes more and more flexible, many women, families and young people are benefiting as they take their career into their own hands and move away from traditional full-time employment and job roles.