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Workers in Wales make the best of a bad job

8 July 2013


Workers in Wales are happier than they are elsewhere in Britain, despite jobs being lower paid and less skilled, according to a national survey carried out by the University.

The findings are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,200 workers aged 20-65 undertaken by a team from the University's School of Social Sciences, led by Professor Alan Felstead.

The results show that:

·         Pay is lower in Wales than other parts of Britain – workers in Wales get around four-fifths of the British average rate of pay, and about two-thirds of what workers in London and the South East earn.

·         However, jobs in Wales are less skilled, with part-time jobs among the lowest skilled of all.

·         Despite this, workers in Wales display higher levels of job satisfaction, enthusiasm and contentment with their work.

·         They are also more committed to the organisations they work for – they have higher loyalty levels and they are more willing to work hard to help the organisation succeed.

·         However, good quality work is relatively scarce with workers in Wales saying that it is more difficult to find a comparable job than workers in other parts of Britain.

These are among some of the findings from the 2012 Skills and Employment Survey.  The survey, conducted every six years, is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).  Additional support for the Welsh sample came from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD).

Professor Alan Felstead, School of Social Sciences, and Director of the survey, says: "Work in Wales remains poorly paid and lowly skilled.  Once in a job, workers in Wales fear that it would be difficult to find a job as good as the one they currently have and that comparable alternatives are fewer and far between.  As a result, workers are more satisfied and happier with their jobs compared to workers in more prosperous areas where alternative jobs of the same quality are more plentiful."

The researchers also note that workers in Wales are more optimistic about keeping their jobs compared to those working elsewhere.  However, fewer workers in Wales have experienced recent job loss and organisational change at their place of work than in other parts of Britain.  Both factors are closely associated with job insecurity.

"With the Welsh economy more dependent on the public sector, the effects of the austerity measures have yet to be fully felt," says Rhys Davies of WISERD, and co-author of the reports.  "Once they are, the mood of workers in Wales may change drastically and leave us with less to cheer about."

The reports will be launched today at Cardiff University with the support of the Bevan Foundation.