Home » Increase in UK Part-Time Workforce – Good for Statistics but What Else?

Increase in UK Part-Time Workforce – Good for Statistics but What Else?

The answer is probably not, unless it is part of a dream career plan or you are in full time education. The Office for National Statistics recently revealed that the number of workers with part-time hours under the age of 30 has increased by 11% since 2007, from 1.89 million to more than 2.1 million in 2012. Data showed that unemployment in the UK had reached a record level at the end of 2012, falling to 7.7%. The public – from this headline alone – may be led into thinking that Britain is on the mend. However, official figures from January 2013 state that Britain is in its fifth consecutive year of falling living standards as earning figures decline from 1.7% to 1.4%. From these findings, we can draw the conclusion that even though more people are in work, less money is going to the average worker.

Conservative ministers are keen on pushing people into work below the national minimum wage or part-time work in these times of austerity in order for them to gain valuable experience and a possibly stepping stone into full-time work. Conservative minister David Morris said on the recent BBC Three show ‘Full Speech’ that young people have to make their own luck in today’s job climate. But when unemployment figures are as high as 24% in Wales for example, and with inflation rates rising and employers are shelling out less money, how feasible are these words? When these small part-time wages are then cut by tax, can people afford to wait for a tax refund?

It seems that many people had to subsidize poor hours by taking up more than one job. These numbers increased to 1.1million by the end of 2012. Other relevant statistics from 2012 also highlight the lack of hours available. Other research found that since 2008, people requesting more hours has risen by 1 million. Although overall statistics show that employment in Britain overall is rising, the numbers of unemployed young people under the age of 30 rose by 11,000 in the last quarter of 2012, the highest rise for that year.

These uncertain times for Britain’s younger workforce was highlighted by Liam Byrne, shadow work and pensions secretary, in a recent statement that the figures “show no roaring recovery, they show very shaky foundations…nearly half a million people have been on the dole for more than a year and youth unemployment rose.”

After the cull of jobs last year in the wake of the closures of big name high-street chains HMV, Comet and Jessops, Lloyds Bank are now planning to slash 1,300 further jobs as part of a ‘strategic review’, which means that they have in total lost around a quarter of its workforce since 2009.

Alongside the rise in employment throughout all age groups, there is a little snippet of good news in the fact that numbers of people claiming Job Seekers Benefit has fallen to a near two-year low.  UK economist at ING, Rob Carnell, even said that the fall in unemployment is “a miracle” ahead of a forecasted triple-dip recession. So what can you do in the meantime? In the midst of gloomy economic headlines, stay positive. Look up work schemes in your area and learn new skills whilst job hunting on free courses, there are lots on offer online. It is important to remember that the economy is currently affecting everyone in the middle and lower classes, so stay patient and learn, learn, learn.

Peter Christopher

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