UK remains reliant on part-time workers, Manpower survey shows

Latest jobs report by Manpower finds employers continuing to hire part-time staff despite optimistic economic forecasts

A surge in job creation in recent months has failed to reduce Britain’s reliance on part-time workers, highlighting the nervousness of many employers about the prospects for the economy, a leading recruiter has said.

The latest quarterly jobs report by Manpower found that employers have continued to hire part-time staff in large numbers despite forecasts that the economy is expected to expand at the fastest pace for a decade.

Likening the jobs market to a swan, the recruitment firm said the outwardly “serene” progress in employment growth masked a market that is “paddling away furiously” with downward pressure on pay, skills shortages and underemployment remaining serious issues.

“It’s still an employer’s market and employees are yet to feel the effects of the economic recovery in their pockets,” said Mark Cahill, managing director of  Manpower. “These issues don’t look like they will ease up much in the near future.”

The survey showed many employers were still reluctant to make the commitment to hire full-time staff while the recovery remained fragile. It also showed that hiring intentions in London have slumped below the national average, while every region in the UK recorded a positive outlook for jobs, partly in response to a rise in hiring intentions by energy firms.

Under intense pressure since Labour announced it would implement a price freeze after the next election, energy firms have received a blitz of complaints. To counter the problem, Manpower said, the companies have hired thousands of staff in regional call centres.

“We’ve seen plenty of criticism of the energy companies for hiking gas and electricity bills,” said Cahill. “However, we’ve noticed the big energy companies are now looking to take on thousands of extra staff to deal with a rising demand in calls. Customers are ringing up the gas and electricity firms in greater numbers, perhaps to question their bill or even to switch provider. The effect of this greater volume of calls is that the utility companies now need to hire to meet this demand.”

But many new jobs were part-time and showed that persistent pressures on pay, underemployment and a lack of skills would continue into next year. Cahill said: “Going into 2014, the UK jobs market has the characteristics of a swan: it’s making steady, serene progress on the surface but a very different picture emerges beneath the water, where it is paddling away furiously.”

A separate report by jobs website found that the increasingly harsh environment in private sector firms was encouraging jobseekers to favour roles in the public sector by over three to one. In a survey of more than 5,000 UK jobseekers, 55% said they would prefer to work for a public sector organisation compared with an equivalent role in the private sector. The private sector was favoured by 16%.

Almost two-thirds of job hunters said the working culture, including hours, holidays and flexi-time, was the main attraction of public sector roles. Nearly half (48%) said a good pension deal was key. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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