By Daniel Hunter

The Comensura Government Index (GI) has revealed that during the third quarter of 2013, from July to September, temporary labour usage in the public sector increased by 4.6% compared to the same period last year.

The annual increase is higher than expected and is strong evidence that local authorities are increasingly turning to temporary labour to provide greater workforce flexibility in delivering public services.

However, the increases in temporary labour have not had the same impact with younger workers. Nationally, average decreases of 9.3% were revealed in the 16 - 24 age category and 1% in the 25 - 34 age group. The statistics suggest more must be done by way of training and support to ensure that younger workers are still provided opportunity to gain employment through temporary roles - which are increasingly seen as a gateway to a permanent position.

The findings reveal a strong growth in light industrial and office/administration positions. Both job classes are considerable areas for temporary labour usage, accounting for 46.8% of all temporary workers. However, the greatest increases in the number of temporary workers were in the construction and IT sectors of 51.8% and 24% respectively.

Additionally, the type of temporary worker employed is changing, reflecting a changing workforce mix. The percentage of temporary workers in professional roles, such as managerial positions, increased. This suggests new found attitudes in the sector to employing more workers to a variety of roles including higher paid, management and executive positions.

Collectively, this meant, the number of men placed in temporary roles increased at a faster rate than women, 6.5% compared with 2.1% respectively.

Jamie Horton, Managing Director at Comensura, said, “We expected an increase in the use of temporary workers as the summer months represent a high demand period, however usage has grown beyond what we predicted.”

“These findings are positive, local Authorities have experienced a tough time of late, with further cuts to their budgets announced back in June, but they appear to be proactively reviewing their staffing decisions to accommodate temporary working. They have recognised the value and importance of a flexible workforce, which in turn has allowed them to continue delivering services to the public during a time of financial strain.”

The Comensura Government Index reports on the usage of temporary labour in over 60 local authorities and other public bodies in England and Wales.

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