The University of the West of Scotland (UWS) is exploring the life experiences of underemployed workers as part of a one-of-a-kind multi-institutional research project.

The £950,000 ESRC-funded study will see UWS work with the University of Bristol, the University of Salford and the University of Nottingham, as well as Bristol One City, Salford City Council, Citizens UK Nottingham and the Poverty Alliance to track levels and experiences of underemployment over time in the UK and across Europe.

Dr Vanesa Fuertes, Senior Lecturer in the UWS School of Education and Social Sciences, said: “Underemployment is a growing feature of our society and a concern for our economy, but its definition, roots, impact and magnitude have not been the subject. of detail or in-depth study so far. By fully understanding the lived experiences of underemployment, the goal is to improve the circumstances of underemployed people, their families and communities, and also, most importantly, employers and the economy, who may not be making the best use of the skills or abilities of the labor force.

“A key objective of the project is to offer evidence-based policy recommendations that could help policy makers and other stakeholders to address the negative consequences that result from underemployment.”

The in-depth investigation will look at underemployed workers, which are classified as people who work below their potential or preference in terms of hours, wages, and skills. From January 2023 to January 2026, the team will analyze the characteristics and effects of underemployment, detail the composition of the underemployed workforce, identify predictors and outcomes of underemployment, and highlight the lived experiences of underemployed workers in the four cities. from United Kingdom.

The study will collect data on how underemployment affects people’s health and well-being, finances, relationships, future job opportunities and other facets of their lives.

The project will also explore the effect of underemployment on their families and neighborhoods, their civic participation, job engagement, and productivity.

Dr Vanessa Beck, from the University of Bristol, said: “The project aims to improve our understanding of what the lived experience of underemployment looks like and the possibilities that exist to improve such experiences.”

Dr Luis Torres-Retamal of the University of Nottingham said: “Most official measures of underemployment are limited to hours worked. This does not consider the case of workers who, although they have a full-time job, have low wages or may feel that their skills are underutilized. We consider this multidimensionality to provide a complete picture of underemployment.

Professor Tracey Warren from the University of Nottingham added: “People might argue that ‘having any job is better than having no job at all’. Our research project is challenging that mantra. It is highlighting the lives of those workers who have a job but have to work in unsuitable jobs.”

Dr Daiga Kamērade of the University of Salford said: “Underemployment often has far-reaching implications for workers themselves, their well-being, financial security and their families and communities around them. We will analyze these implications.”

To learn more about the project, visit their dedicated website here


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