Work Quality in Northern Ireland Statistics

Date published: 02 March 2022

The latest Work Quality statistical publication was published today by the Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA).

Economic Output Statistics
Economic Output Statistics

This analysis builds on two previous publications and compares the quality of work across seven broad sectors using eight statistical indicators. Commentary on the latest release is provided below.

Introduction

  • Analysis on employment tends to focus on the quantity, not quality, of work. This analysis builds on two previous publications and compares the quality of work across seven broad sectors using eight statistical indicators. The suite of work quality indicators include subjective and objective measures, relates to employees aged 18 and over and has been derived from the Labour Force Survey and the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

Notable work quality difference between and within sectors

  • The work quality analysis highlights both differences between sectors, and different aspects of work quality within sectors. Notably large differences are shown across industry for earnings above the Real Living Wage (range of 46pps), flexible working (29pps range) and career progression (21pps range) while the order and scale of work quality aspects varies by industry.
  • The most positive work quality indicator in 2021 at the NI level and across each sector was secure employment, where 95 per cent of all employees were in a permanent job or in a temporary job and did not want a permanent job. The least positive indicators were employee involvement in decision making, career progression and flexible working, where approximately 50 per cent met these criteria at the NI level. These indicators were the least positive for 5 of the 7 industries.
  • Of all the sectors, the public services sector, which includes public administration and defence, education and health and social work, had the largest number of work quality indicators above the NI average, performing higher in 7 out of 8 indicators. The industries which performed lower than the NI average in the most indicators were hospitality and retail, transport and communication and banking and finance industries (5 of the 8 indicators). 

Industry results

  • As well as reporting higher proportions than the NI average for seven of the eight work quality indicators, the public services sector reported the highest percentage of employees earning above the Real Living Wage (91 per cent) and performing meaningful work (92 per cent) of all sectors.
  • The manufacturing sector was most positive of all sectors for the secure employment (99 per cent) and neither under nor over employed (88 per cent) indicators. However, the manufacturing sector showed less positive statistics for flexible working, career progression and involvement in decision making.
  • The hospitality and retail sector reported lower percentages for employees than the NI average for five of the eight indicators. Employees in this sector also had the lowest percentage of employees earning above the RLW (45 per cent) and in secure employment across all sectors, but reported higher levels of job satisfaction and involvement in decision making than most sectors.
  • Employees in the banking and finance sector had the lowest levels of job satisfaction compared to the other sectors, and were lower than the NI average in four other indicators (earnings above RLW, meaningful work, career progression and involvement in decision making). However, employees in this sector reported higher levels of flexible working, secure employment and neither under nor over employed than the NI average.
  • The transport and communication sector had the least positive statistics when compared to the other sectors for employee involvement in decision making and neither under nor over employed. The largest difference seen in this sector was earnings above the Real Living Wage (RLW), which was 7pps higher than the NI average and higher than most sectors.
  • The construction sector reported the highest level of career progression, but the lowest percentage of employees in flexible working and in meaningful work. Similarly, the other services sector reported the highest levels of job satisfaction, involvement in decision making and flexible work, but the lowest levels of career progression and a low proportion with earnings above the RLW. These two sectors combined account for less than 10 per cent of all employees.

Notes to editors: 

1. The statistical bulletin and associated tables are available on the Work Quality in Northern Ireland – July 2020 to June 2021 page of the NISRA website.

2. A Work Quality page, which also includes links to two previous publications and a live work plan, is available on the NISRA website.

3. This release provides statistics for eight work quality indicators: earnings, job security, neither under/over employed, job satisfaction, meaningful work, career progression, employee involvement in decision-making and flexible working. The earnings indicator is sourced from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), and the remaining seven are sourced from the Labour Force Survey (LFS).

4. Analysis is based on employees aged 18 or over between July 2020 and June 2021 (referred to as 2019/20), in line with data available from ASHE.

5. The seven industries considered are public services (includes public administration and defence, education and health and social work), hospitality and retail, banking and finance, manufacturing, transport and communication, construction and other services (includes arts, entertainment and recreation). Full details are contained within table 3 of the publication on the Work Quality in Northern Ireland: July 2020 to June 2021 Downloadable tables  page of the NISRA website.

6. The definitions for the eight work quality indicators can be found in table 1 of the publication on the Work Quality in Northern Ireland: July 2020 to June 2021 Downloadable tables.

7. The survey reference date for ASHE was during the Coronavirus pandemic and was within the time period for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) grant.

8. The Real Living Wage (RLW) is announced in November each year and must be implemented by the following May. As such it is likely that the previous year’s living wage was still in place when the survey was completed. The 2020 rate of £9.50 is therefore used to calculate the percentage earning above the RLW in the time period covered by this release.

9. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency wishes to thank the participating households and businesses for taking part in the Labour Force Survey and Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

10. The Work Quality in Northern Ireland report will be of interest to policy makers, public bodies, the business community, banks, economic commentators, academics and the general public with an interest in the local economy.

11. For media enquiries contact the Department for the Economy Press Office on pressoffice@economy-ni.gov.uk.

12. To keep up to date with news from the Department you can follow us on the following social media channels:

13. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

14. Follow NISRA on Twitter - @NISRA

15. Feedback is welcomed and should be addressed to Responsible statistician: Jennifer McLoughlin, Economic & Labour Market Statistics Branch (ELMS), jennifer.mcloughlin@nisra.gov.uk or Tel: 028 905 29228.

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