The workforce is smaller but more female, according to a think tank report.

The Resolution Foundation found fewer men than last year are in work aged 25-44 with more women taking up the mantle. They now make up 48 percent of all workers.

It also found the number of working mothers has gone up by 6 percent. 

The authors say: “74 per cent of mothers of 0-3-year-olds were in the workforce in 2021, compared to 68 per cent in 2019 and 2017.”

Why is this happening?

One of the reasons for the rise, according to the report, is the introduction of home working allowed some carers to work. Another is second earners trying to earn more to offset pay disruptions caused by disruption to their partner’s work.

However, the report expects that workers who work exclusively from home will fall back to pre-pandemic levels by October next year. This is despite some parents – mainly mothers – being enabled to enter work.

Darren Hockley from Delta Net International is calling on businesses to allow flexible working to ensure more women in their workforce.

He said: “Women have unfortunately felt the brunt of the pandemic, especially those with children, trying to home-school them through the full lockdowns, all while trying to keep their jobs going.”

Mr Hockley suggested that going to pre-pandemic inflexible working would prevent women from staying in work.

How to keep women working

He insists that the only way for organisations to procure talent is to help women by ensuring flexible working.

He also called for businesses to educate line managers not to penalise staff who are juggling home lives with work: 

“What organisations need to remember is to create a solid policy where remote workers or flexible workers are still offered the same opportunities as others. Provide opportunities to allow (women) to prosper in their careers.”

High skilled workers taking low skilled jobs

Despite the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme coming to an end, the report found no spike in unemployment. Instead it says evidence suggests that 88 per cent of those furloughed in September were in work in October.

However it warns there are worrying early signs that workers are moving into occupations that do not match their skill level. 

This is due to those with higher skill levels moving into sectors like hospitality and leisure, which had reopened before others.

It says: “The share of workers who are in a higher-skilled job than a year earlier has fallen back to levels last seen in 2012.”

The report calls this trend “worrying”: “The share of people who are over-educated compared to the average level of educational attainment for the occupation they are in has reached a record high.” 

Policy makers need to support workers to move into jobs that match their skills and experience, says the report. It says this reallocation would boost productivity.

The future is hybrid

Meanwhile, the Resolution Foundation’s survey evidence suggests workers expect the increase in hybrid work to outlast the pandemic, but not fully remote working

Hybrid working, it says, will give educated professionals more options about where to live, and more opportunities to balance work and family commitments. 

However it expects low paid workers to be adversely affected by hybrid working. It says this is “as they will to find new jobs in new places as they respond to the demand of higher-paid workers.