From education to employment

Working Futures

What do you picture when you think of a part-time worker? A bar job you had as a student? A mum balancing work and childcare?

I picture Leicester and England striker Jamie Vardy. Before Jamie Vardy was breaking Premier League goal scoring records or putting shots past the best goal keeper in the world, he worked part-time. He was employed in a factory and played for Stocksbridge Steels – who paid him £30 a week.

Jamie Vardy wasn’t your typical part-time worker, but what we think of as a typical part-time worker is changing.

In the years following the recession self-employment hit a forty year high. But at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, we predict this will not be sustained in the long term. Our latest labour market projections show that instead, part-time work is set for a boom. By 2024 it is expected that part-time employment will exceed 10m.

Footballers, whatever their working patterns, are obviously unusual cases. Far more common than part-time strikers are the mums who choose to work 3 days a week or people who work flexibly in lower skilled roles. These experiences are reflected in labour market data. In 2014 there were almost three times as many women than men working part-time.

However, our research shows signs that we are beginning to move away from this “typical” part-time demographic. We project that there will be a 20% growth in the number of men working part-time by 2024. That’s more than double the rate of increase for women (7%). This indicates men may be choosing to improve their work/life balance, while women become increasingly career focused.

This part-time employment growth will be highest in high skilled roles. For example, male part-time employment in management and professional occupations is expected to grow by 27% – more than twice the rate of growth for full-time male employment in these occupations and five times the rate of growth for male employment as a whole.
So part-time work is growing, with men and high skilled workers playing an important part in driving that growth. In doing so they are changing the labour market and how we think about part-time work.

Apart from part-time work, what else can we expect to see increase by 2024?

At the sectoral level, professional services and information technology will likely see the strongest rates of job growth. Construction is also a sector set for expansion, helped by predicted increases in public and private investment.
The main sources of occupational growth are managerial and professional roles. In other words, high skilled positions, including corporate managers and STEM professionals. Growth is also predicted in some lower skilled care, leisure and service roles including nursery nurses and adult social care workers.

So what does this mean for the further education sector? Undoubtedly these occupational and sector changes offer a significant opportunity for FE providers. These changes will influence the pattern of demand for providers, from higher apprenticeships to college courses.

The market for further education may be changing in other ways too. Between 2014 and 2024 there will be 42% increase in those educated to levels 4-6 (bachelor’s degree or equivalent) as higher skills are increasingly demanded by employers.

Our projections also show some areas of decline.

The manufacturing industry looks set to continue in its decline in terms of employment. The related occupations of skilled trades (from welding to metal sheet workers), will likely also decline, as will the number of process, plant and machine operatives. However projections show the productivity and output of the sector will increase, suggesting a need for fewer but higher skilled workers in this sector.

The greatest net job losses are predicted in administrative and secretarial occupations, where technology will play an increasingly significant role. Overall, these occupations are expected to shrink by more than 10% over the decade 2014-2024. There will however continue to be job openings in this area as employees retire or leave the sector.
While these findings are only projections, and the Jamie Vardy story should remind us how difficult predicting the future can be, the trends identified in our report help map the future direction of the UK economy. We are moving to a higher skilled, service led labour market. This is changing the occupational make-up of the country and the working patterns of UK employees.

Tom Maksymiw is a graduate intern in communications at UKCES

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