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Scottish flexible workers compete for 1 in 8 skilled job, study shows

New research has examined for the first time the ratio of quality jobs advertised as open to flexible working options in Scotland.

Conducted by flexibility experts Timewise, and commissioned by the Scottish Government working in partnership with Family Friendly Working Scotland, the research reveals a huge mismatch between the availability of flexible jobs and the number of people wanting to work flexibly.

The first ever Timewise Flexible Jobs Index Scotland found:

  • Only 11.9% of quality jobs (paying at least £20K FTE) are advertised with flexibility at the point of hire (just over 1 in 8).
  • More than a third (34%) of workless people seeking employment in Scotland are looking for part time or flexible vacancies.
  • Part time workers could be earning up to £3.62 less per hour than their full time counterparts with similar qualifications.

Key findings from the research also included:

  • Higher paid jobs are less likely to be advertised flexibly. A quarter of jobs (24%) paying less than £20k full time equivalent (FTE) were advertised flexibly compared to less than one in ten jobs (8.9%) paying £35k to £59k FTE, limiting career progression and earnings for people who want or need to work flexibly.
  • There is a limited range of flexibility on offer. Of those jobs that were advertised flexibly, nearly two thirds (61.6%) were part time. Other flexible working options, such as flexible hours and homeworking, were mentioned far less frequently and 15% of jobs didn’t specify what type of flexibility was available.
  • Availability of quality flexible jobs varies significantly depending on the role. More than a quarter of medical and health roles (26.9%) were advertised with flexible options, compared to less than three percent (2.8%) of roles in facilities and construction.

These new figures demonstrate the need to increase the number of quality jobs in Scotland advertised as open to flexible working options, as a matter of urgency. Designing jobs to be open to flexible working options at the point of hire would ensure employers can attract the broadest range of candidates, and enhance the opportunities for the thousands of skilled workers who are currently blocked from progressing their careers and earnings.

The report makes a series of recommendations and highlights a clear opportunity for employers to hire flexibly as the norm rather than the exception, and to consider offering flexibility as a key way to attract, retain and progress talent. It also calls on the Scottish Government to emphasise flexible hiring in the Scottish Business Pledge and Fair Work commitments and on the UK Government to include flexible hiring in the forthcoming Industrial Strategy.

Lisa Gallagher, Joint Programme Director of Family Friendly Working Scotland, said:

“These findings show a huge demand in Scotland for flexible working and a clear opportunity for employers to tap into this demand by designing and advertising jobs as flexible. Most employers are currently missing out on recruiting and retaining the best talent and from getting the most from their employees. When people are able to happily combine home and work life they are much more likely to be engaged, motivated and productive at work – giving it their all.

“Thinking differently and innovatively about how work is designed will help Scottish businesses to prosper. Employers should be thinking about the best way to get a job done rather than assuming it should fit into the traditional 9-5 model.

“Flexibility is inherent in every job. It could be around hours, around location, job sharing or any number of other changes.

“Our Happy to Talk Flexible Working strapline is one simple measure that employers can use today to create and advertise flexible jobs."

Emma Stewart MBE, Joint Chief Executive of Timewise, said:

“Designing jobs to be open to flexible working, from the point of hire, needs to be part of the debate on how Scottish employers can help raise living standards for the thousands who need to work flexibly. Businesses consistently fail to realise how important flexibility is to people when looking for a new role, often resulting in the best talent having to trade down and take jobs way beneath their level of skill and ability. A stable and permanent Scottish flexible jobs market will be a win-win for all.”

Equalities Secretary, Angela Constance said:

“The Flexible Jobs Index highlights the huge potential for growing the flexible jobs market across Scotland. Not only is flexible working good for workers and families but it is also good for business and boosts productivity.

“The Index is an important piece of work which highlights the huge potential for increasing the flexible jobs market and is a valuable contribution to our aim to create a fair, smart, inclusive Scotland, where there is genuine equal opportunity for all.

“I commend Timewise and Family Friendly Working Scotland for their work and encourage employers to read this report and consider what positive actions they can take in the future.”

To help mark the launch of the report today, Ms Constance is due to visit staff who work flexibly at Lloyds Banking Group in Edinburgh.

Fiona Cannon OBE, Group Director of Responsible Business and Inclusion at Lloyds Banking Group, said:

"Flexible working has traditionally been seen as an employee benefit, but at Lloyds Banking Group we’ve found that agile practices, properly implemented, deliver clear business benefits too. As well as a more engaged workforce and therefore increased talent retention, the biggest driver of value is the ability to respond to demand and to the changing needs of our customers. Recruitment is at the heart of this, including designing and advertising jobs to be seen as agile from the outset. It’s what businesses need and colleagues want."

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