More young women stuck in low-paid jobs

1 November 2013

Three times more young women are trapped in low-paid jobs than 20 years ago, according to new research.

The TUC study shows that the number of women aged 16 to 24 doing low-paid work, such as office and hotel cleaning, has risen from 7% to 21%, while the number of young men working in low-paid jobs rose from one in seven (14%) to one in four (25%).

The report highlighted how gender still plays a huge part in determining young people's careers. Only 1% of women worked in skilled trades, compared to 20% of men. And four times more young women worked in occupations such as hairdressing, leisure and travel.

TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The youth labour market has become a much harsher place for young people over the past 20 years, especially for young women.

"While there has been a welcome rise in the number of females gaining qualifications, many still find themselves trapped in low-skill, low-wage jobs. This is because there are fewer good jobs out there and because young women are still being channelled down 'traditional' routes.

"Unless we create better training and employment opportunities for young people, as well as challenging gender roles from the outset, the situation will not improve. We need to invest in new industries to create decent jobs and provide better early years careers support."

Katy Jones from The Work Foundation, which carried out the study, said: "The gender gap starts early in working lives and is particularly striking in the lower half of the labour market. Young women tend to start work and remain in sectors with lower pay and fewer prospects.

"Unemployment for both young men and women remains at crisis levels. While it is higher for young men, young women are more likely to quit an active job search and move into inactivity from unemployment."

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