Pearson: Post-Covid Inequality

The Pearson Post-Covid Inequality Forum heard from a number of witnesses in sessions over the summer about the toll of the pandemic on the hardest hit groups in society. As part of that work, Pearson UK commissioned Public First to carry out a survey to catch a glimpse of the impact on the pandemic on people’s jobs, careers and prospects for the future.

Our poll of 2,003 adults aged 18-64 was carried out online between 10th-18th August, and final results are weighted to be representative of the UK working-age population on interlocked age and gender, region, and social grade. Public First is a member of the British Polling Council (BPC) and abides by its rules, and company partners of the Market Research Society. For any questions about the poll or the methodology please contact Seb Wride.

Key overall findings

According to our survey, those in intermediate and higher managerial level roles (AB) tend to believe it is likely they will move to a more senior role in the next 5 years (45% to 29% say this is likely). C1, C2 and DE respondents all lean more towards believing it is unlikely, with DE in particular at 24% likely to 48% unlikely overall.

Despite this, across social grades there is no notable trend in whether individuals believe their chances of a good career have been damaged by the coronavirus pandemic. 31% of ABs agree compared to 28% of DEs. Of those in London, 51% say that they expect their income to increase in the next year, making this the only region with an outright majority saying so.

Our regression analysis (presented in more detail below) shows that furlough and pandemic-related job losses have had severe impacts on the confidence of those who were affected. Those who have applied for new jobs during the pandemic felt that getting a new job is more competitive, with 71% saying it is compared to just 2% saying it is less competitive.

Key findings on gender differences

Men are slightly more likely to believe their income will increase in the next year, with 42% saying so compared to 34% of women. Women are slightly more likely to say that they would need training to get a better paid role in their sector (53% compared to 47% of men) and for a more senior role in their sector (61% compared to 52%), which holds true when controlling for other demographic factors. However, there is no difference between men and women on whether they would actually like to take part in training.

Key findings on ethnicity differences

By 42% to 35% white respondents tended to disagree that their job feels less secure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, whilst BAME respondents tended to agree 39% to 31%.

Many of the findings around confidence in moving to more senior positions are shaped by the relative youth of the BAME portion of the sample (with 22% of the BAME group being 18-24 compared to just 8% of White respondents), however our regression does show that BAME respondents tended to be slightly more confident about finding a more senior role than their peers. On the other hand, BAME respondents were no more likely to think they actually would move to a more senior role in the next 5 years once we control for age.

BAME respondents are more likely to say that training is too expensive, and that fitting it around family and caring commitments are the biggest barriers to doing training. 56% of BAME respondents say they would need training to move to a better paid job in their sector, however this is not significant when controlling for other demographic factors, which indicates that this is possibly a better explained by the BAME group being younger (60% of 18-24s say they would need training, compared to 45% of 55-64s).

BAME respondents are also considerably more likely to want a degree from a university as the option for further training than White respondents (23% compared to 9%).

Key findings on age differences

On whether participants think it is likely that they will leave their current job in the next 5 years, there is a V-shaped age trend, with the youngest respondents more likely to think they would (58% of 18-24s) as well as the oldest respondents (47% of 55-64s, presumably to retire).

On the question of optimism about the future of their career, young people are more optimistic, but largely because older respondents tended to mid-respond. 58% of those aged 18-24 say they have applied for a new job during the pandemic.

Younger respondents tend to find their jobs more stressful, with 63% saying they experience stress on a weekly basis in their current job compared to 35% of 55-64-year-olds.

Among our sample, 31% of 18-24yos had experienced furlough at some point during the pandemic compared to 19% of 55-64s. 14% had experienced losing a job compared to 4% of 55-64s. Our regression shows that those who had been furloughed were considerably less confident about retaining their job over the next 12 months, and the trend was even clearer with those who had experienced job loss.

Results of regression analysis in more detail

We ran a series of regression analyses to understand how various demographic factors play a role in career confidence, the perceived impact of the pandemic and interest in training. Performing this analysis allows us to dig deeper into which demographic factors play the most important role; for example, if we see a clear age trend, this might be better explained as a difference between those who have and have not attended University (with younger people more likely to hold degrees).

Current Job Confidence

Firstly, whether someone is confident they will still be in the same job they are in in 12 months’ time was not hugely impacted by demographic factors, with the exception of income, with those on the highest incomes tending to be more confident. Where the pandemic had impacted individuals directly, this had a clear impact on their confidence. On our 1-7 scale of confidence, those who had been furloughed at some stage tended to be 0.23 points less confident they would be in the same job in the next 12 months. Those who had experienced job loss during the pandemic were 1.79 points less confident (although the sample of individuals who had lost a job and were now working was small).

On people’s confidence that they would be able to find a more senior job to the one which they are currently in, there was a clear age trend, with those who were older tending to be less confident that they could move into senior roles. Confidence on this was higher among those with children, those in higher Socio-Economic Groups, with higher incomes and BAME responses.

When we instead phrase this as a question about how likely someone feels they are to move to a more senior position within the next 5 years, however, there are some notable differences. Demographic trends here were quite strong:

  • Women tend to feel they are less likely to move to a more senior position;
  • Older people tend to feel they are less likely to;
  • Those without University degrees are less likely to;
  • Those with children under 18 are considerably more likely to;
  • Those in higher social-grade groups are more likely to; and
  • Those on higher incomes are more likely to.

On this question, ethnicity no longer displays a significant effect.

Impact of the pandemic

We asked whether respondents agreed that their chances of a good career have been damaged by the pandemic. We find that:

  • Women are less likely to agree;
  • Older people are less likely to agree;
  • Those without University degrees are less likely to agree;
  • Those with children under 18 are more likely to agree; and
  • Those on higher incomes are less likely to agree.

We see the same patterns when we ask whether people feel that the pandemic has made their job less secure.

Asking the opposite, whether participants felt like the pandemic had had no impact on their personal career, showed that those with higher incomes but also from lower socio-economic groups were more likely to agree. Older people, and those with no degree were more likely to agree.

Those who felt that their household had been negatively impacted by the pandemic more than other households had, tended to be those on lower incomes, white respondents, and those with University degrees, although trends here were quite small.

On optimism about the future of their career, we find older people, and white people to be less optimistic, and those without University degrees, with children and with higher incomes to be more optimistic.

One of the clearest ways the pandemic has impacted careers is through pandemic related job losses, hour reductions and furlough. We find all three of these have had notable impacts on those who experienced them. For example, when we ask whether respondents agree that their job prospects will never recover as a result of the pandemic, we find all those who experienced these to agree much more. We also find those with children under 18 more likely to agree, and men, younger people, graduates and those on lower incomes.

Training

On the general question as to whether a respondent would or would not like to train over the next year, we find that the most enthusiastic for training are younger, those with University degrees and those with children under 18.

When we ask who feels that they need training to move to a better paid position, we find that women are more likely to feel they do, as are younger people, those with University degrees, those with children under 18, those in lower socio-economic groups and those on lower incomes.

On the loan option, we find three key trends remain. Younger people, University graduates and those with children under 18 are more likely to be interested in this loan.

Read the full tables here.