Thursday, 25 May 2017

Radical shifts in Borders employment patterns


The number of Scottish Borders workers holding down more than one job has fallen by 50% in the space of only two years, according to a raft of new statistics on Scotland's employment patterns.

While this was perhaps the most eye-catching result from the Scottish Government's 2016 population survey, a number of other trends are certainly worthy of mention.

For instance, the volume of employees wanting to work longer hours has also gone down markedly since 2015. The proportion of temporary jobs has also plummeted, but the number of part-time posts appears to be higher than it has ever been. And the split between public and private sector has not changed much despite well publicised staffing cuts in the local government sector.

The percentage of graduates in the Borders workforce is almost ten percentage points higher than it was in 2006, the total of over 16-year-olds with no qualifications is down by almost 2,000 in the same period while numbers who have never held a paid or unpaid job are 900 higher than ten years ago.

Back in 2014 the Scottish Borders Council area had a surprisingly large proportion of its workforce (7.5% or 4,000 in total) with two jobs or more. The statistic was partly attributed to the region's low wage levels. But the 2016 data shows just 2,000 (4%) with more than one place of work.

The national figure is even lower at 3.5%. Yet in neighbouring Dumfries & Galloway the total has increased from 5.5% (3,600) in 2014 to 6.9% (4,500) last year.

Under-employment - the official term for workers wanting to work longer hours - fell in Scottish Borders from 13.2% of employed people (7,100) in 2015 to 9.5% (5,000) the following year.

We took a close look at the figures for those employed in the public and private sectors within the Borders economy in a bid to establish what has been happening over the last few years.

In 2006 13,900 men and women were making a living in public services, representing 25.7% of the total workforce. By 2014, following an overall increase in the region's population, the numbers had swollen to 15,500 (27.4% of those employed). The most up to date statistics are 13,200 (24.2%) which represents a rise of 100 public sector posts since 2015.

Tables linked to education, qualifications and skills show the proportion of 25-64-year-old workers who are graduates has increased from 20% in 2006 to 29.3% in 2016. But the Borders is lagging behind the national average of 35.8% last year, up from 23.4% a decade ago.

At the other end of the attainment scale an estimated 8,500 (13%) of employable people in the Borders had no qualifications. Now the statistics stand at 6,400 (9.7%).

The numbers in the 16+ age bracket who have never had paid or unpaid work was a good deal higher in 2016 than it was in 2006. The respective totals were 4,000 or 4.2% and 3,100 or 3.5%.

Permanent and non-permanent jobs can also be a valuable indicator of business confidence and of regional economies. In the Borders case there were 2,900 so-called non-permanent jobs in 2006, 600 more than the 2,300 figure for 2016.

But the data for full-time and part-time jobs was less encouraging. Ten years ago there were 13,700 part-time posts in the Borders, well below the current total of 15,800.

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