Introduction and research objectives
This report presents findings on young people's experiences of precarious and flexible work. These work conditions included where young people had for example zero hours contracts (ZHCs), low wages, lack of progression opportunities, dissatisfaction with current employment, varying hours and salary, or seasonal work etc. The study population was 16-24 year olds who were currently employed or had held a job previously in Scotland within a certain timeframe. The research included an evidence review, as well as primary research in the form of focus groups and a large Scotland-wide face-to-face survey. The research was conducted and analysed between July 2019 and January 2020 (that is, prior to the Covid 19 pandemic).
The Scottish Government acknowledged that existing information, knowledge and data on young people's precarious and flexible working conditions is limited. The evidence review was undertaken to identify and understand the existing information and research available on this topic, both within Scotland and more widely across the rest of the UK and other relevant areas. This stage identified information specific to young people and in the context of Scotland. This is contained in Appendix A. Primary research was then carried out to gain a better understanding of the topic across 16-24 year olds in Scotland.
The Scottish Government set out nine research questions (RQ) that the research was to address. Different stages of the research project addressed different RQs. The research questions set by the Scottish Government are shown in Table E1.
|Research question||Sub-research question|
|RQ1 - What is the range of potentially precarious or flexible working conditions experienced by young people in Scotland?||Which of these are the most important / critical (e.g. in terms of their prevalence)?|
|RQ2 - To what extent are young people aware of their contractual status (e.g. whether they are on a ZHC)?||What factors (if any) determine levels of awareness (e.g. sector of employment, demographic characteristics)?|
|RQ3 - What are the circumstances whereby young people find themselves in precarious work / contractual conditions (e.g. ZHCs)?||Do they choose them voluntarily or have no option?|
|RQ4 - What are the experiences (e.g. positive, negative, mixed) of young people in a range of potentially precarious or flexible working conditions (e.g. ZHCs, low wages, lack of progression opportunities)?||What factors (if any) determine these experiences (e.g. sector of employment, demographic characteristics)?|
|RQ5 - Are there any particular disadvantages, challenges, advantages, opportunities etc. of different potentially precarious or flexible working conditions?||NA|
|RQ6 - What is it about the terms of employment that cause specific disadvantages? What type of contracts appear to be the most problematic and to who?||NA|
|RQ7 - To what extent can different potentially precarious or flexible working conditions be considered as 'positive destinations' for young people (e.g. do they offer opportunities for progression, fit in around lifestyle / caring responsibilities, etc.)?||Which young people are benefitting? What are their specific working conditions?|
|RQ8 - What are the barriers that prevent young people who want to change jobs from doing so?||Does this differ by contractual status (e.g. ZHC) or other potentially precarious or flexible (depending on perspective) working conditions (e.g. low wages, lack of progression opportunities)?|
|RQ9 - What (if any) type of information, advice and guidance do young people who want to change jobs require and what are their preferences for accessing this support (e.g. digital, online, face-to-face)?||Does this differ by contractual status (e.g. ZHC) or other potentially precarious or flexible (depending on perspective) working conditions (e.g. low wages, lack of progression opportunities)?|