Single parents have a higher unemployment rate than any other major UK talent pool, according to labour market analysis released today by Indeed.
It found that one in ten (11 per cent) economically active single parents are currently unemployed, two-and-a-half times the unemployment rate for Britons as a whole (four per cent), and higher than all other major pools of untapped talent.
There are 2.8 million single-parent households in the UK, with 180,000 single parents currently out of work and looking for a job. A further 315,000 are out of the job market while looking after their families but could potentially return to work in the future, adding to the tappable talent available.
With Britain enjoying a historic high of 32.4 million people in work, employers still want to hire. The economy currently has 845,000 vacancies – forcing employers to compete more and more with one another and making it important from them to look further for every recruit.
Despite the increase in the UK’s employment levels since 2013 to its current record levels, the number of single parents who are in work has remained at 1.6 million over the past five years. Single parents constituted eight per cent of all new hires in the second quarter of this year, suggesting that some employers already recognise the talent on offer within that group.
However, the proportion of single parents who are finding new jobs either from unemployment or from inactivity has fallen in the last five years, which suggests an opportunity for employers to tap more into this pool.
With only four per cent of British adults in the workforce unemployed and the number of European workers declining, many businesses are struggling to find the staff they need – making it all the more vital for them to access the potential within relatively untapped talent pools.
Indeed’s own data revealed that jobseeker interest in flexible or remote-working jobs and in working from home has increased by 71 per cent since 2015. While single parents are by no means the only group who would favour these kinds of work, it does highlight a growing trend to which employers should be alert.
Indeed also identified other pools that current employers may consider attracting, including people with disabilities (8 per cent unemployed) and those from minority backgrounds (6 per cent), though the talent within both of these groups is increasingly being recognised, as the share of new hires for each has climbed significantly since 2013.
People with disabilities constituted 16 per cent of all new hires in Q2 of this year, with total new hires up by a fifth compared to five years ago; hiring of ethnic minorities has also climbed over the same period and they now account for 13 per cent of new hires.
Pawel Adrjan, economist at global job site Indeed, comments,
Low unemployment and falling numbers of European workers mean that no employer can afford to overlook people still available for work in today’s competitive labour market. Single parents are less likely than the overall population to participate in the workforce. When they do, they are more likely to be unemployed than many other demographics, suggesting that they struggle more to find a job than others.
Single parents face clear challenges associated with inflexible work schedules, commuting distances and availability of childcare. We can also see from the data that they tend to be younger than the overall pool of jobseekers. These barriers and, in some cases, a lack of experience means that navigating the job market and finding a match with the right employer can be difficult.
The tightness of the labour market has led employers to think broadly about whom they can recruit. Many are actively targeting new demographics by introducing incentives like flexible working hours and the ability to work from home – which more and more jobseekers are searching for on Indeed.
It is encouraging to see that employment rates have improved for single parents and people with disabilities and ethnic minority backgrounds in recent years. Yet there is still much more that can be done.
It is true that integrating and accommodating these groups of employees can require additional investment in training or changing the way the business is organised. But these underutilised demographics should be a strong recruiting ground for employers who are struggling to hire.”