UPFRONT Part-time and full on

It used to be that the part-timer was seen as less committed breed of worker – sort of fill-in until the real full-timer came along.
But that image is changing, and needs to if we’re to ease the skills squeeze and take full advantage of shifting lifestyle patterns, according to recent EEO research paper which suggests part-time work could become the new employment norm.
Part-time work has been on rapidly rising trajectory for several years pushed in more recent times by an unemployment rate that at 3.6 percent is now the lowest in OECD rankings. Most of the record 1.6 percent jump in job growth over the past quarter consisted of part-time roles – many taken by those sitting slightly outside the traditional labour force such as students or over-55s.
This reflects trends highlighted in the EEO paper. Entitled “Part-time work and productivity: trends and initiatives”, it outlines some of the demographic and societal shifts that impact on labour force participation – such as later workforce entry (more time spent in education), later retirement, changes to family economic structures and child-bearing patterns.
The outcome of these is longer period of work participation marked by reduced intensity at the start (alongside study) and end (semi-retirement) – plus an uncomfortable scrunch in the middle as peak career time coincides with peak childrearing time.
As researcher Mervyl McPherson found, the once typical breadwinner couple (man in full-time work, woman home with kids) is largely just memory. For women with children, part-time work is most common when the youngest child is aged 5-9 years, but part-time work arrangements are more successful for parents even when their kids have reached teenage.
Other research has noted that an increase in part-time work opportunities tends to raise female labour force participation and the report points to the need both for greater work flexibility and for “changing norm of the ideal worker”.
Lynne Taylor is perhaps good example of the new norm. director in corporate finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers, she has not been held back by the fact that she’s been working part-time for the past six years in order to spend more time with her two children (aged seven and four years).
Taylor was working at senior consultant level when she had her first child in 1997 and because her career was big part of her life, she was keen to be in role where she could continue adding value and keep her career moving while also contributing to her family.
“I went onto 60 percent of full-time hours which was bit of breakthrough for the firm because there wasn’t huge precedent for it. We’ve now got many precedents.”
While full-time work career may have panned out differently, Taylor says she managed to change her role, improve her experience and advance in the organisation in terms of seniority and responsibility while on part-time contract.
Working in fairly specialised area has perhaps helped, says Taylor, both because of the opportunities it offered and in the value she can contribute.
With skilled workers in short supply, employers are becoming more open to flexible job options. And while part-time work is not yet the new norm, it’s on the up and up and may be the “most likely source of increased labour force participation by those currently not in the labour force”, says McPherson.
That’s because more flexible work options potentially extend the proportion of life spent in the labour force while at the same time reducing the intensity of participation during child-bearing years.

Visited 3 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window