Women and older workers are staying in jobs longer

By on July 29, 2015

By Rachel Savage 

But more young people are in insecure work.

Seven years after the financial crisis, the labour market is still in flux as deeper structural changes take over from the downturn-recovery cycle. New research shows women and older workers are staying in jobs longer, potentially trapping increasing numbers of young people in insecure work.

The proportion of workers aged between 50 and the state pension age in full-time, stable jobs or well-established self-employment rose from 42% in 1994 to 48% last year. For women, that increased from 31% to 38%, according to the study by left-wing think tank the Resolution Foundation.

That’s driven by some pretty positive trends: people making use of their skills and experience in the workforce for longer; and more women returning to full-time work after having children.

But the rate of people moving between jobs last year was still below pre-crash levels, especially for young people, creating what the report labelled a ‘promotion blockage’. Half of 18 to 29 year-olds are now ‘insecure’ (in part-time, temporary or low-paid jobs), up from 40% in 1994.

Meanwhile, someone born in 1983 earned R55 000 less per year when they were 30 than a person born in 1978 did at that age.

Source: Resolution Foundation

Other recent studies have argued long-term unemployment is becoming harder to fix, particularly as technology automates lower-skilled jobs. The challenge for governments – and employers suffering from the skills gap, whose older workers will also eventually retire – is to get younger people trained up and into the highly skilled jobs of the future.

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