Women lag behind men in escaping part-time work

Nicola Sturgeon has made equality a priority. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Nicola Sturgeon has made equality a priority. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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Young women in Scotland are becoming stuck in part-time work while their male counterparts are moving into full-time employment, a report will claim this week.

Analysis of the Scottish economy, carried out by a respected think-tank, has identified inequalities in the labour market which are harming the job prospects of women.

A report published by the Scotland Institute examined the economy between the crash of 2008 and this year.

According to the report, “From Recession to Recovery: Youth Employment and Unemployment in Scotland 2008-2015”, young people have moved from full-time jobs with security, training and opportunities to short-term, part-time and zero hours contract work.

It noted that in 2007 almost 65 per cent of those in work were full time. By 2014-15 this had fallen to 55 per cent.

When it came to gender, the study found that in the year to June 2015, 44.9 per cent of male 16-19 year-olds and 73 per cent of men aged 20 to 24 were in full-time work. The figures for women made an unfavourable comparison, with just 25.1 per cent of 16-19-year-olds in full-time work and just 44.8 per cent of females aged 20-24 working full time.

Nicola Sturgeon has made achieving equality of opportunity for women one of the key priorities of her First Ministership. But last night, opposition politicians claimed the report showed that much more work required to be done to ensure women had parity with men in the workplace.

Yesterday, Scotland Institute chairman Dr Azeem Ibrahim said: “This study challenges some of the received wisdom on the state of the Scottish job market, with women in particular who want to increase their hours being consistently unable to do so. While there are bright spots in the state of youth unemployment generally, women are disproportionately being failed by the current system and we must work for employment quality for all as soon as possible.”

The Scotland Institute claimed women were getting a “raw deal” and said many of the improvements in the Labour market since 2012 were down to an increase in part-time positions, which, ultimately were not the kind of jobs that people wanted.

Last night Labour’s public services spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “We might have a female First Minister, but the reality is that in Scotland today women dominate low paid, part-time jobs. Talking about the problem isn’t enough and won’t increase the pay of a single woman in Scotland. Scottish Labour’s plan to introduce a living wage for care workers would boost the pay and security of thousands of women in Scotland.

“The SNP Government should back our plan to deliver a pay rise for women in Scotland.”

The report found that in 2015 19 per cent of young men and 11 per cent of young women were unemployed, while 35 per cent of each gender were economically inactive, a figure that includes those in full-time education. It found joblessness was still closely related to education, ethnicity, disability and living in a deprived area.

When it came to earnings, the report found that those who worked full time had benefited from pay increases, with the average weekly wage after tax increasing from £204.71 in 2012 to £287.67 this year.

That increase was not seen in part-time wages, which over the same period had risen from £83.54 to just £100.74. The report noted that for part-time workers “the limited gains have scarcely kept up with inflation”.

In 2015, women in part-time work did take home a slightly greater weekly wage (£107.38) when compared with men (£92.32). But women were finding it harder to move from part-time to full-time positions. The report said: “It is clear that many of those working part time are looking for more hours, which is part of the wider pattern of under-
employment. There is a worrying sign that young women in particular are being trapped into part-time work while their male counterparts shift from part-time work to full time.

“The steady growth in zero hours contracts, on-call work and annual hours contracts all points to the problem of excessive casualisation of the work force not going away.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said latest figures released by Eurostat, covering the period April to June 2015, show that Scotland’s female employment rate is second only to Sweden, with fewer than four percentage points separating the countries. According to Eurostat, Scotland’s female employment rate for April-June 2015 was 70.6 per cent while Sweden’s was 74.0 per cent. The UK rate is ranked in eighth place at 67.4 per cent.

The spokesman said: “We have worked very hard to improve youth employment and women’s employment in Scotland and have the best record in the UK. This month it was confirmed Scotland retained the second-highest female employment rate in the EU and, as we pledged in our Programme for Government, we are committed to driving these improvements even further.

“The number of young women taking Modern Apprenticeships has increased since 2008 and just this week Skills Development Scotland published their Equalities action plan to tackle the traditional gender imbalance in some areas of our Modern Apprenticeship scheme. There are more women in further and higher education than men – reflecting the fact that women make up more of the population.”