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UK local authorities turning to older temporary workers to deliver services

Staffing Industry Analysts, the global advisor on contingent work, has published an article that states that according to the latest Comensura Government Index, during the financial year of April 2013 to March 2014, temporary labour usage in local authorities and other public bodies increased by +2.7%. This suggests that local authorities are continuing to use temporary labour to provide greater workforce flexibility in delivering front-line services.

temporary worker statistics

Continuing increase in use of temporary workforce

The yearly increase in temporary worker FTE (full time equivalent) was mainly influenced by increases in the light industrial, construction, and office/admin/clerical job classes, which increased by the following:

  1. 1) Construction jobs: +36.6%
  2. 2) Light industrial jobs: +9.3%
  3. 3) Office/admin/clerical jobs: +3.4%


The year-on-year increase in temporary labour implies a continued reliance on temporary workers in the public sector. Therefore, it is reasonable to state that temporary labour has provided local authorities with an immediate solution to short term resourcing problems, high levels of flexibility, and the addition of expertise or specialist skills as and when required. In turn, this has helped hiring managers to control their costs better and make more efficient use of their resources.

Declining use of younger temporary workers

Findings from the Comensura Govenrment Index also show that local authorities and other public bodies continue to remain an employer that offers significant temporary employment opportunities to young people, with 34% of all workers under the age of 34.

However, the Index also showed a continued and declining use of younger temporary workers. Those aged:

  • between 16 and 24 declined by -7.1% compared with the previous year
  • between 25 and 34 by -2.9% compared with the previous year

Those under the age of 34 tend to work in light industrial, office/admin/clerical, and social care roles. Only light industrial increased usage year-on-year by +3%. Under 34s working in office/admin/clerical and social care roles experienced year-on-year declines of -3.2% and -9.5%, respectively.

Trend towards older workers

Using more of older temporary workers has been a consistent theme in previous issues of the Comensura GI and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of it reversing. In 2013/14, temporary workers aged 35 and over all increased, which means that local authorities appear to be shifting their temporary recruitment focus as they recruit for more skilled positions and are asked to do more with less due to continued budget cuts in the sector.

Therefore, when looking to recruit into temporary labour roles, they are tending to hire workers with greater experience and proven capability. Investing in younger, less experienced workers means more time, effort and training which has a knock-on effect on both time and finances, two resources that continue to be under extreme scrutiny for local government.


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