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No matter which generation you belong in, you’ll likely have found yourself caught up in numerous comical situations when travelling public transport as a youth. One we’ve all experienced is the big gummy grin you receive when giving up your seat for an elderly person on the bus and it was always nice knowing you had done your good deed for the day. However, things often turned sourer when you were queuing in torrential rain to board the bus and forced to give up your front place position to a string of OAPs and new mothers, purely based on your age. You were a victim of your own generation and this is an almost identical metaphor for what is happening in UK employment at the moment.


New research carried out by independent thinktank Resolution Foundation has revealed that much like those youngsters pushed to the back of the bus queue, employment security of young workers is being sacrificed in favour of older employees. The foundation issued its A Steady Job? report which showed that a generational divide has emerged in the workplace and is causing young people to become increasingly apprehensive about their job prospects.

The promotion blockage

The report showed that across the UK, around 2 million jobs have been created since 2010 but job mobility has remained at the same pre-recession rate. Since the 2007 financial crisis, the pace at which workers move from job to job has drastically slowed and this decline has caused a problematic promotion blockage. Movement up the earnings ladder has ground to a unanimous halt behind this blockage as employment mobility continues to stagnate.

The report found that the typical earnings of a 30-year-old born in 1983 were around £2,800 less than somebody of the same age born five years earlier. The statistics are an alarming revelation for young workers looking to build on their aspirations and expand their professional prospects in the current climate. These young workers in ‘insecure work’ are defined as part-timers in post for less than five years and full-timers in post for less than two years or earning less than half the average full-time wage. The umbrella also encompasses those working less than 16 hours a week in what have come to be known as ‘mini-jobs’.

The quantity of these ‘insecure’ jobs is still massively above the pre-financial crisis level, which implies that this widespread unease is here to stay unless appropriate action is taken to remedy the situation. A rise in the number of people operating in self-employment, under zero-hour contracts or in temporary work are both a cause and result of this heightened insecurity and the thinktank is now urging George Osborne to do more to address the need for secure work and full employment.

What did the experts have to say?

Senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, Laura Gardiner, said: “The UK has a good record on getting more people into work over the last 20 years, though some have argued that this has come at the expense of rising job insecurity. In fact the overall share of insecure work has remained remarkably stable, even since the crash.

“However, the recent rise of precarious forms of employment such as zero hour contracts has brought deeper insecurity for a sizeable minority of workers, particularly young people.”

University of Bath Economics and Social Policy Professor, Paul Gregg is an associate at the foundation and had this to say: “The amount of time people spend in the same job has risen steadily, particularly among women and older workers. This shift has been supported by a combination of financial incentives, support with childcare and employment legislation.

“But we’ve also seen people moving between jobs less frequently. This can create a promotion blockage, which in turn hinders young people’s career progression and can permanently scar their earnings. Job security is crucial to the pursuit of employment as it will make work more attractive to those facing the biggest barriers to work. But we should also be mindful about the falling rate of job moves, which are a vital way for young workers to build their careers.”

About The Author

Stephanie Whalley

Serial snacker, compulsive cocktail sipper and full time wordsmith with a penchant for alliteration, all things marketing and pineapple on pizza.

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