The trend towards part-time work continues with the recent Labour Report figures showing that the increase in the number of people seeking part-time work is nearly double those seeking full-time work.

In July alone, there was an increase of over 4% in the number of Australians seeking part-time work as opposed to under 2.6% seeking full-time work.

Just two weeks ago, Qantas cut over 1,000 jobs, GWA cut 400 and OneSteel announced 400 jobs will go.  And, apparently, there’s more to come.

The ANZ Head of Australian Economics and Property Research, Ivan Colhoun, has weighed in on the subject saying that the market is currently not producing enough jobs to keep unemployment steady for much longer with only 3,000 of the 10-12,000 new jobs needed to remain stable being created.

But as full-time employment steadily declines, the decrease is offset by a consistent rise in part-time employment which now makes up 30% of the workforce.

These figures are no surprise to co-founder of the part-timer’s job site HireMeUp.com.au, Allison Baker — a perennial part timer herself.

“Part-time work has been on the increase for quite some time now as is evidenced by the figures released each month by the Australian Bureau of Statistics,” she says. “In July alone, there were over 7200 more people looking for part-time work than in the previous month bringing the number of part-time job seekers to 183,600. That number has been growing for months and there’s three main groups contributing to the increase”.

According to Baker, the biggest group of part-time work seekers are parents.  “Mums and dads make up a big percentage of our job seekers.  Some are simply becoming more aware of work/life balance and wanting to scale back on their life-consuming corporate gigs, others are former stay-at-home parents that are being forced back into the workforce due to the escalating cost of living”.

The second group that Baker sees growing in numbers are baby boomers.  “A few years ago, economists were predicting a mass exodus of boomers from the workforce as they reached retirement age,” she says.  “But that prediction just isn’t coming true due to the GFC and depleted superannuation funds.  Retiring baby boomers simply can’t afford to retire now, but we are seeing growing numbers of them moving from full time to part-time employment in order to subsidise their living expenses”.

Students make up the third biggest group and, again, it seems that escalating costs of education and living are forcing many young Australians into part-time work.

But it’s not just job seekers who are responsible for the growth in the movement to part time.  Many employers are loosening their grasp on the full-time, 9-5 work tradition because it simply doesn’t work for everyone.

A recent survey conducted by HireMeUp found that while most jobs advertised twelve months ago were for full-time work, now anywhere from 35-50% of the jobs advertised in any given week are for part time, casual or project roles.

So why the move to part time?

“We talk to employers all the time who simply can’t afford to employ full-time workers.  The rising costs of business including recent huge increases in electricity and insurances and the big killer, compulsory super, means that business owners have had to pare back.  They need the skills and expertise of good people but only want them when they need them.  They simply can’t afford them full time.”

Baker says that her business was borne purely to answer that need.  “I’ve always had part-time jobs and almost always more than one at a single time. Working part time has allowed me to study and given me flexibility, plus the advantage of a wide variety of work experience. And, when I graduated from Uni in 2008 — the year the recession really took hold — I, along with a lot of my peers, couldn’t find full-time employment. My only choice was to pick up two part-time roles until I could find a foothold in my career”.

“Understanding that sometimes full time just doesn’t work led my business partner (a working mum) and I to start HireMeUp – a site for the growing number of part timer workers – like both of us – to find work and for employers to find good part-time staff,” says Baker.

“From fitting work around class schedules or kids’ schedules to supplementing your income and your superfund, part-time work is not just for the unskilled teenager during the holidays anymore. There is a wealth of talented Australians out there who can’t or don’t want full-time employment and there’s plenty of employers out there looking for quality, skilled candidates who want flexible roles. We’ve created somewhere for them to connect.”

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