Labour Mobility in Northern Ireland

January 8, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Business, Economics
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Lunchtime Seminar No60: Labour Mobility in Northern Ireland Thursday 4th September 2014

Adelaide House

Research into labour mobility in Northern Ireland

4 September 2014


DEL commissioned Oxford Economics to undertake a comprehensive review of labour mobility in Northern Ireland

The objectives of the study were to:


Review the factors that determine mobility

Present evidence on the degree of mobility in Northern Ireland

Identify barriers to mobility that may inhibit the efficient functioning of the labour market

The study explores two types of labour mobility within Northern Ireland Labour market status mobility

Geographic mobility

Employment Nonemployment Economically inactive

Frequency Full-time employee


Time of day Transport availability

Part-time employee

Unemployed Selfemployed

Primary focus (moves between non-employment and employment) Secondary focus (moves within employment status)

Within NI Migration

Beyond NI (outside scope)

Geographical mobility is important, but too much may be inefficient and be associated with a lack of cohesion and a weakening of social capital

Labour mobility benefits individuals and firms, and is a crucial component of Northern Ireland’s long-term economic competitiveness


Mobility enables individuals to improve their personal circumstances by moving into work

Mobility enables firms to draw from a larger pool of potential workers  Vacancies can be filled more quickly  Better match between jobs and workers

For Northern Ireland, greater mobility means:  Reduced poverty and social exclusion  Making the best possible use of the workforce  Ability to quickly react to emerging technologies and commercial opportunities  Greater long-term economic competitiveness

Despite significant progress over the last two decades, the NI labour market continues to face structural challenges The claimant count unemployment rate fell steadily until 2008, but increased steeply during the recession

100% 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0%

12% 10% 8% 6%

4% 2% 0% 91


95 97 99



Northern Ireland


07 09




The proportion of the working age population claiming Disability Living Allowance is twice that in England and Wales 12% 10% 8%

6% 4% 2% 0% 2003



Northern Ireland


There has been a clear process of de-industrialisation over the last two decades



England and Wales


91 93 95 97 99 01 03 05 07 09 11 13 Agriculture and Mining Industry Services

Northern Ireland has the greatest reliance on public sector jobs amongst UK regions 0% Northern Ireland Wales North East Scotland South West Yorkshire & Humber North West West Midlands Uk East Midlands South East Eastern London





The study used a range of sources and techniques A literature review by Dr Ian Shuttleworth of Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Anne Green of Warwick University

Telephone survey with 1,100 non-employed individuals

Focus groups with small groups of Job Club participants in Ballymena, West Belfast, Derry~Londonderry, Strabane

Statistical analysis and modelling, including detailed analysis of the LFS

Stakeholder interviews:  JBO / JC Advisers in Ballymena, West Belfast, Derry~Londonderry and Strabane  Employers (Ikea, a Belfast City Centre hotel, a Derry~Londonderry technology company)  Disability Action, Gingerbread NI, Institute for Conflict Research, NI Community Relations Council, Supported Employment Solutions, Youth Council NI)

Most of the work was completed between October 2013 and April 2014


Geographic mobility

The drivers of geographical mobility in Northern Ireland are similar to those identified by wider academic research

House moves

Less mobile

More mobile

Aged 40+

Aged under 40 Lower skilled

Daily commute

With dependent children

Previous experience of working/studying away from home No dependent children

Aged 45+

Aged 25-44



Lower skilled

Higher skilled

Part-time employees

Full-time employees Previous experience of commuting

The Northern Ireland labour market is characterised by a clear East-West divide

Employee jobs, workplace-based, 2011

Source: Northern Ireland Census of Employment 2011

Proportion of the population aged 16-74 that is nonemployed, 2011

Source: 2011 Census

House moves are not an effective labour market adjustment mechanism in Northern Ireland

Proportion of the of population aged 16+ who have moved house during the last three years, 2012

Source: Labour Force Survey, Oxford Economics

Proportion of the population aged 16+ who have moved house during the last three years, 2004 to 2012

Source: Labour Force Survey, Oxford Economics

People generally move within their local area and many are unwilling to relocate to take up work Average distance moved within Northern Ireland, 2001-2006

Average distance of move, miles Move to Rural area Urban area Rural area 2.3 16.4 Move from Urban area 15.1 2.9

Percentage of moves Move to Rural area Urban area Rural area 23% 4% Move from Urban area 6% 67%

Source: Registrar General Northern Ireland Annual Report 2006

Would you be prepared to move to another part of Northern Ireland to obtain employment? Not sure 7% Yes 29%

No 64%

Source: PIMR telephone survey

Commuting times in Northern Ireland are similar to other parts of the UK outside London

Average travel to work time, all UK regions, 2012

Average travel to work time in Northern Ireland, 2006 to 2012

Source: Labour Force Survey, Oxford Economics

Source: Labour Force Survey, Oxford Economics

Northern Ireland is very car-dependent and few people travel to work by public transport Mode of transport to work, 2011

Proportion of workers commuting by public transport, 2011

Source: Census 2011

Source: Census 2011

Transport is a significant barrier to mobility  Cost of travel means it is often not economically viable for those at the lower end of the labour market to travel to work  “No car, no job; no job, no car” Car ownership by economic activity status

Source: Census 2011

Transport is a significant barrier to mobility in Northern Ireland  Job Seeker’s Agreement states an individual must be willing to travel 90 minutes to a job  Even in Belfast, Ikea find it difficult to recruit from many parts of the city because bus links are focused on travel to/from city centre

Source: Focus group statements, Oxford Economics

The ‘chill factor’ remains an issue for some sections of the community in Belfast and, to a lesser extent, Derry Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey 2012 findings

Focus groups  Only in Belfast did participants highlight areas of the City they would feel unsafe working in JBO staff  Belfast: chill type reasons one of the more common reasons given for not taking a job, but don’t hear it on a day-to-day basis. Some employers seen as ‘safe’, regardless of location (e.g. Bombardier, Civil Service). Some parents may forbid adult children from taking a job in an area perceived as unsafe  Derry~Londonderry: chill type reasons sometimes used for not taking a job, but more of an excuse. However, river is a significant divide. Not necessarily seen as unsafe to cross, but other side is viewed as more remote than distance implies.  Ballymena: no chill by area, but some employers dominated by one community and people may refuse to work for them for that reason Other stakeholders  Young men from working class background often reluctant to work outside comfort zone.  Has become worse over last year, might be because allocation of investment and jobs seen as unfair by a particular side  Youth Council say people declining work placements based on location  Gingerbread noted that those with a strong willingness to obtain education or work don’t let chill factors prevent them from taking an opportunity

The telephone survey confirmed that most people do not have concerns about working anywhere within a reasonable distance of their home

Are there any areas within a reasonable distance of your home, but where you are not willing to take up employment? (Workforce Development Areas) 100%

Please identify why you would not be willing to take up employment in these areas Prior experience, 2%

90% 80% 70%

Other, 10%


Don't feel comfortable / safe, 19%

50% 40%

Religious/ Political, 55%


Too far to travel / travel issue, 26%

20% 10%




0% Belfast



South West North West


Source: PIMR telephone survey




South East


Source: PIMR telephone survey

Labour market status mobility

It is relatively difficult in Northern Ireland to quickly re-enter employment after becoming unemployed Proportion of unemployed claimants by duration, average of August to October 2013

Source: Nomis, Oxford Economics

Proportion of population aged 16+ who were actively seeking work last year who are economically inactive this year, 2012

Source: Labour Force Survey, Oxford Economics

In Northern Ireland there is a greater reliance on the state to move people off benefits Claimant off-flows by reason, Northern Ireland and UK, August to October 2013

Source: Nomis, Oxford Economics

Evidence of the impact of having children on mobility is mixed

Childcare availability and cost, and caring responsibilities can be a barrier to taking up work 0%





But children may create an incentive to avoid longterm unemployment 50%



Lack of job opportunities Access to and cost of childcare Carer/ looking after family Lack of qualifications Lack of relevant experience Acess to and cost of transport

Proportion of unemployed

Illness/ disability

60% 50% 40% 30% 20%



Length of time unemployed


Level of pay in comparison to benefits… Other

Source: PIMR telephone survey

Under 1 year

Over 1 year

Duration of unemployment Household with Dependent Child(ren)

Household without Dependent Child(ren)

The proportion of unemployed people using JBOs and Job Centres as their main method of seeking work is much higher than elsewhere in the UK Proportion of unemployed persons who use Job Centres as main method of seeking work, 2012

Source: Labour Force Survey, Oxford Economics

Information was not identified as a barrier overall, although certain sub-groups may benefit from specialist support 

Generally few problems obtaining information on jobs, and a wide range of websites are used:       

Job websites Employer websites, e.g. B&Q, McDonalds, etc. Recruitment agencies Local and Northern Ireland wide newspapers Twitter Facebook Word of mouth

Positive feedback on JBOs from focus group participants: “The job centre does mock interviews and gives you good feedback on how you performed” (Coleraine)

“Well, the likes of the Job Club here have been very helpful… If you are filling in an application form that you are not sure about, they will give you help. This Job Club has been good with this sort of thing” (Coleraine) “When you go down to sign on they see what it is that you are looking for. A lot of the times they go through it and are really helpful” (Derry~Londonderry)

NEETs may need specialist help and may not be confident engaging with JBO staff

The disabled have seen a reduction in support following the removal of specialist Disabled Employment Advisors

The study found strong evidence of the ‘benefits trap’, whereby the unemployed prefer to receive benefits than enter employment  Attitudes and expectations of the unemployed  Most are seeking a permanent, full-time position to make it financially attractive to come off benefits  Derry JBO staff noted that many of those registering specify they would not work for less than £30,000 per year, even though they may be signing on to receive £75 per week  Reluctance to build experience and increase employment chances through temporary or part-time work (even though inexperience identified as a strong barrier to employment)  Unwillingness to work in evenings and at weekends

 Zero hours contracts identified as problematic – rare in Strabane but represent a large proportion of new jobs in Ballymena

The study found strong evidence of the ‘benefits trap’, whereby the unemployed prefer to receive benefits than enter employment

What is the minimum wage level required to make it worthwhile to come off benefits?

Median gross weekly pay, full-time workers, workplace based, 2013

35% 30%

25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Less than £100 up £140 up £180 up £220 up £260 up £300 or Not Sure £100 to £139 to £179 to £219 to £259 to £299 more Source: PIMR telephone survey

Source: Nomis, Oxford Economics

The research also found strong evidence of a labour market queue

      

Older The sick and disabled Less qualified Male Poor ‘soft’ skills Inexperienced History of worklessness in the household

At the time of the research, JBO and JC staff reported that graduates were taking jobs that previously would have been taken by unskilled or low-skilled workers

   

Younger Female Healthy More qualified

The unemployed highlighted a lack of experience and training as barriers to employment, but employers emphasised ‘softer’ attributes

Difficult to get experience without a job and a lack of positive references can be a barrier.

JBOs helpful in signposting suitable training courses, but JBO staff suggested they have limited discretion to tailor support to those who would benefit most

Passion, enthusiasm, interest in furnishings, people skills and basic IT

Derry technology company Belfast City Centre hotel

Attitude, enthusiasm and reliability

Passion and enthusiasm for the industry will open more doors

Final thoughts

Where will jobs be available?

Difference between employment growth and working age population growth, 2008-2024

The literature review highlighted that policies to take jobs to workers are rarely effective Origin of workers at the Halifax call centre1

Only 30% of newlycreated jobs at a number of expanding sites went to those not previously in work

(1) McInstry and Shuttleworth (2002)


Tackling barriers to mobility will require a concerted effort across policy areas, but is essential to reducing social exclusion and enhancing competitiveness i.

How could the government bring workers and jobs closer together, without harming the overall competitiveness of Northern Ireland?


What scope is there to influence the mindset of those who prefer being on benefits to working?

iii. How can Northern Ireland generate enough jobs to ensure that even those at the ‘back of the queue’ stand a good chance of finding work? iv. How can the government help the unemployed and inactive develop the soft skills that employers value? v. What steps could be taken to further reduce the ‘chill factor’ that can still affect certain inner-city areas?

vi. Is there more that can be done on childcare to increase the mobility of those with caring responsibilities?


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