Lack of flexible working drives workers into low-skilled jobs

A lack of flexible working opportunities is driving highly-qualified workers into jobs below their skills level.

If more flexible working was available, 6.5m people in Britain could be using their skills to a greater extent, according to a new report by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Working Outside the Box. This revealed that the waste of talent could be reduced with the introduction of more flexible working hours, either by people working at a higher†level or simply by returning to the workforce.

Although the research indicated that flexible working is in wider demand than ever before, 60% of employees claimed they had not seen any information about jobs where flexible working practices were available. Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC, said: “Work just isn’t working for many people any longer. Far too many people burn out, trade down or drop out altogether. Millions of people are working below their skill level in order to have a life outside the office.”

Despite graduate skills shortages, one-in-eight female graduates are working in low-level jobs and the proportion of graduates in high-level jobs is falling.

Interestingly, a higher number of non-parents than parents are currently working below their skills level, partly because flexibility increasingly suits students and the ageing population. People also†require more control over their hours and the location of their workplace. Employees are being put off by rigid models of working and are seeking jobs where they are able to enjoy life outside work.

Flexi-time and home working are becoming increasingly popular, while†new technology is allowing companies to become more innovative in how they organise work.

“The benefits of flexibility are a two-way street. Some pioneering employers are leading the way using technology and better management to make a difference. They have changed their work culture, and report better staff engagement and increased productivity as a result. But it’s crucial for both our economic survival and individual wellbeing that more follow their lead and embrace a new approach,” added Watson.