As the economy evolves to meet new economic, business and work patterns is the very nature of work also changing? Is the full working day that so many used to be accustomed to now becoming a thing of the past?

As part-time job opportunities rise to a three year high, Michael Cheary from, looks at the evolving working week and what it means for the UK workforce.

Part-time work is on the up, according to the Reed Job Index. Whether we turn to part-time for greater flexibility, or because of changing demands on our time, the working week is developing beyond the traditional nine to five. But what’s behind this trend that’s shaping the British workforce?

Changing lifestyles

One explanation for the rise in part-time positions is that our lifestyles are changing. Shorter hours mean we can fit our careers around our increasingly busy schedules. For job hunters wondering how they’ll fit their morning gym class and afternoon language course around a full-time job, the traditional working week is becoming increasingly unappealing. Part-time is a great solution for workers looking to have a healthy work/life balance.

A ‘stepping stone’

Aside from adding flexibility to our lives, part-time positions are becoming more and more important for jobseekers looking for work within competitive industries.

Taking a shorter-term or temporary position allows some individuals more time to study or receive training in an area they are interested in. In other words, gaining a professional qualification while working part-time can open the door to a career that may have been out of reach if working in a job with longer hours.

Looking to grow

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While some people work part-time as a lifestyle choice, others will be looking to turn their flexible position into a fixed nine to five job, with all the salary benefits that come with it. A part-time job is a great way to keep the cash-flow going while looking for a more permanent position.

What it means

The latest official figures estimate that more than eight million of us are now working part-time (Office of National Statistics, March 2013). That’s nearly a third of the whole working population of the UK. Clearly, Britain’s workforce is adapting to the needs of the job market to include a wide variety of permutations of full-time, part-time, temporary and self-employed workers, ultimately leading to a more diverse working environment for all.

So whether you’re a graduate, working part-time to gain industry experience, a student taking on part-time bar work to fund a professional qualification, or a parent looking to fit their income around the school run, having the flexibility to work part-time can have a multitude of benefits.


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