Work

Brits are worrying more about their job prospects as unemployment hits record low, study says

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Britain's workforce has become more pessimistic about job prospects over the last year, as unemployment in the country has reached record lows.

According to research published this week by the Institute for the Future of Work (IFW) and market research firm Opinium, worker optimism has fallen since 2018, with one-in-five workers more pessimistic about their career prospects than they were last year.

It comes after official data showed last month that Britain's unemployment rate had fallen to 3.9%, the lowest level since the start of 1975.

The IFW's research also found that only a quarter of employees in Britain trust their government to assist them if they were to find themselves unemployed.

Researchers surveyed 3,000 workers, with 60% saying it would be difficult to find a new job if they lost their current one, and a third of respondents believing they would have to take a more junior position if they became unemployed.

According to the study, half of those based in London felt they would have a lot of job options to choose from if they needed to find a new place to work, but outside of London only 38% of workers felt the same.

Welfare support

Confidence in government welfare was also low. Although the majority of respondents said the government should be responsible to support those out of work, just 26% expected that the state would actually offer them support if they lost their jobs. Almost 80% of workers said they expected financial support would come from their family, while 68% said friends would help out and a third would look to their religious community.

There was also some disparity between genders when it came to the impact of losing a job. While 61% of female workers were more likely to worry about not being able to support themselves financially, 46% of men said they would feel anxious in the same scenario.

Meanwhile, half of the women surveyed said they would worry about not being able to find another job, compared to 38% of men.

"These findings show that British workers are rightly anxious about job change and prospects through the 'double disruption' of Brexit and the fourth industrial revolution," Anna Thomas, co-founder and director of the (IFW), said in a press release on Monday.

"Confidence in support for worker transition – Britain's next big challenge – is low. We need to broaden the conversation about 'good work' and how we get there."

Jack Tadman, senior researcher at Opinium, added: "It's clear from our research that many aren't optimistic about, or prepared for, a future of work that could look drastically different to now."

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