White-collar staff feel the force of flexible working patterns

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The Independent Online
The trend towards "flexible" working patterns will become more pronounced amongst white-collar workers such as managers and professionals, according to a new report, writes Diane Coyle.

An analysis of figures for 1996 shows fixed-term contracts and other forms of temporary work have become more widespread this decade in research jobs and education as well as industries like catering normally associated with job insecurity. According to Warwick University's Institute for Employment Research, the proportion of people working on a temporary contract in research and development climbed from 13.4 per cent in 1992 to 16.0 per cent in 1996. For education the proportion rose from 13.2 to 16.9 per cent.

These figures mean such arrangements are already more common in these fields than in catering, healthcare or other personal services, even though the number of people involved is smaller. Fixed-term contracts have made particular headway in teaching, applying to nearly one in five teachers. But one in 10 science and engineering professionals also has a fixed contract, and they spread particularly rapidly, from a small base, among health professionals.