Over 66% of young agency workers looking for permanent jobs

By agency reporter
December 10, 2014

The increased use of zero-hours contracts and agency workers by employers is preventing young people from obtaining permanent jobs, according to new analysis published on 9 December by the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The TUC analysis of official figures shows that 81 per cent of temporary agency workers aged 20–24, and 64 per cent of those aged 25–29, say they are in temporary work because they cannot find a permanent job. Similarly, 50 per cent of zero-hours contract workers aged 20–24 and 58 per cent of those aged 25–29 say they are only doing temporary work because they cannot find a permanent job.

Employers argue that agency working and zero-hours contracts offer young workers valuable job experience and a stepping stone into more permanent employment. However, analysis suggests that younger workers are increasingly trapped in insecure work, when they would really prefer permanent employment which is more likely to provide access to training and workplace benefits, such as pensions and leave entitlements.

Whilst those aged under 30 currently represent just one in four of the overall working population, they account for 44 per cent of all individual workers employed in temporary work, and 37 per cent of all agency workers.

The TUC research shows that in 2014 the majority of all zero-hours contract workers (50 per cent) were aged under 30 – this marks an increase of 11 per cent (when compared with figures for 2008).

The increase in temporary and insecure employment is also pushing young workers into poverty. The past decade has seen a huge rise in the proportion of under-25s living below the breadline. The TUC analysis shows that upheavals in the labour market – including the vast expansion in the use of zero-hours, part-time work and low-paid self-employment – is fuelling young worker poverty.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The UK’s young people are increasingly bearing the brunt of the wages crisis.

“Younger workers are being pushed into zero-hours and temporary jobs from which they have little hope of escaping. The government can no longer afford to ignore the plight of young people, who are struggling to cope with poverty pay, poor prospects and the increased cost of housing and food.”

The TUC analysis forms part of a report looking into the effects of casualisation on the UK workforce, which will be published next week at the beginning of Decent Jobs Week. The TUC’s Decent Jobs Week is a campaign to raise awareness about the millions of workers in the UK who are trapped in low-paid and insecure jobs.

* Decent Jobs Week runs from Saturday 13 December until Sunday 21 December. More information on the Decent Jobs Week campaign and planned activities is available at www.decentjobsweek.org

[Ekk/4]

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