Press release

Businesses must invest in flexible workers or risk future talent

Research into how temporary or zero-hours contracts affect employees' career development opportunities.

Workers on temporary or zero-hours contracts think they are less likely to have career development opportunities than those on permanent contracts, new research has found.

The research, carried out on behalf of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), shows only three in five (58%) of people on temporary contracts who had received training in the past 3 months had it paid for by their employer, compared to 74% of permanent workers.

Those on flexible contracts often had to train themselves – with 17% of those on zero hour contracts paying for their own training, and 5% relying on their family to meet the cost.

The new figures support concerns raised by UKCES’s recent Employer Skills Survey, which found that one in five vacancies is currently left unfilled because employers are unable to find recruits with the skills they need – a sharp rise from 2011.

Jeremy Anderson, UKCES commissioner and chairman of global financial services for KPMG Europe LLP said:

Flexible contracts are an essential part of our 24/7 economy and they meet the needs of many workers. However, we need to ensure that people on them can still access opportunities to develop skills and progress in their careers, particularly young people.

We need to encourage collaboration and share best practice so that flexible contracts can work for everyone – employer and employee alike.

If flexible workers are receiving less training, and having to pay for their own, this poses a risk to the long term future talent pipeline: employers may not be able to get the skills they need and people on flexible contracts may find it harder to progress in their careers – an issue particularly concerning for young people who have taken flexible contracts as a first step into work.

The survey was instigated as part of the work being carried out by UKCESHR Leaders Advisory Panel – which brings together leading figures in HR from companies across the country to give an employer perspective on work being carried out by UKCES.

As a result of the findings, the panel are now calling on more businesses to share best practices with each other in order to improve the way flexible contracts work for employers and employees, recognising that large employers can influence their supply chains by sharing training resources.