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May 05, 2021

Employees on furlough in the UK consider taking jobs they are overqualified for

Employees on furlough in the UK consider taking jobs they are overqualified for

According to new research done by consultancy firm NTT DATA UK, 62% of respondents fear that they would not have a job after the furlough scheme ends and 79% consider applying for jobs they are overqualified for. The findings not only reflect a widespread sense of uncertainty about what will happen when the furlough scheme comes to an end in September but also a sense of pessimism about the post-pandemic job market. The UK’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been vital in protecting and retaining jobs and skills in the country’s labor market but each time it has been due to end, fears of millions of job losses have surfaced.

The research conducted by NTT DATA UK has found that fears of such losses have not dissipated even with the recent extension of the scheme. IZA World of Labor contributor Francis Green has established that job insecurity adversely affects health but that there are also certain employability policies that can mitigate the effects. “The fear of unemployment has increased around the world in the wake of Covid-19. […] Governments should take into consideration the health cost of restrictive policies that generate unemployment and insecurity, while promoting employability through, for example, skills training,” Green writes in his article.

In reality, the uncertainty and concerns about job security may be impacting people’s willingness to learn new skills. A labor market, which is full with overqualified workers for the jobs for which they are applying, may be causing some individuals to not recognize the benefit of learning new skills. The survey found that 31% of people have not spent the time to learn any new skills while on furlough, and 9% of the participants said that they didn’t need to learn new skills. Nevertheless, 52% of furloughed workers said that they were doing free training online and 11% said that their employer had provided them with training to do whilst on furlough.

IZA World of Labor contributors Maria Balgova, Simon Trenkle, Christian Zimpelmann and Nico Pestel have explored job search patterns during the pandemic. In their opinion piece they recommend that “policymakers [should look at] providing additional job search assistance, retraining, or other preparatory measures for the unemployed to facilitate a swift recovery of the labor market once the impact of the pandemic recedes. This is particularly important if the post-pandemic economy looks substantially different from before: in that case, job search will become a crucial part of the transition to the new normal.”

Read Francis Green’s article Health effects of job insecurity and Maria Balgova, Simon Trenkle, Christian Zimpelmann and Nico Pestel’s opinion piece Job search during a pandemic recession.

Find more IZA World of Labor coronavirus content on our curated topics pages: National responses to Covid-19 and Covid-19—Pandemics and the labor market.