Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

Part-time Work in Britain 1992-2006: From Periphery to Core?

The work and labour market situation of female part-time workers have been a central focus of contrasting sociological interpretations of the labour market. These share in common a view that part-timers occupy jobs with lower levels of skill and lower pay than full-timers, but provide very different accounts of why this should be the case. However, the major perspectives adopt a relatively static view of the labour market, implicitly assuming that the relativities between full-timers and part timers are likely to remain relatively constant across time. This paper shows that the skill position of female parttimers workers has improved significantly since the early 1990s. While this has benefited some sectors of part-timers more than others, there is no consistent evidence of polarisation. There is still a significant skills gap, but the changes over time cast doubt over the view that female part-timers should be regarded as a quite distinct peripheral sector of the workforce.

Key Words: part-time work; skills; pay; polarisation

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