A pilot study was carried out by GREC from March to June 2017, using short questionnaires about experience of working life in the UK. Even with a small sample size of 65, some interesting patterns emerge.
Most participants were happy with their present or most recent jobs, including all full-time workers and 90% of long-term residents. The largest dissatisfied group was part-time workers, a quarter of whom were not happy with their jobs.
Similarly, most participants knew where to look for a new job, with the notable exception of those with lower skill in spoken English, around half of whom did not know where to look. This group also tended to work in lower status occupations.
Despite job satisfaction, 43% of participants felt their jobs were not a good match for their skills and qualifications, though this figure declined with length of residence in the UK. Two-thirds of participants resident for less than 5 years felt they lacked opportunities for career progression, and half felt insecure in their jobs. For those resident more than 5 years, each of these figures decreased by half. Participants in higher-status jobs (managers, engineers, etc) tended to be more positive about their opportunities.
Getting a job seems to become easier with length of residence: three-quarters of new arrivals considered it difficult to get a job, compared with less than a quarter of those resident 5+ years. However, this may be a self-selecting pattern – those without employment face visa restrictions.
The chance of experiencing discrimination at work also appears to rise over time, reported by 17% of participants who had lived in the UK less than 5 years, and 37% of those resident 5+ years. Men and participants with poorer English skills were more likely to experience discrimination – 42% and 40% respectively, versus 23% of women and 18% of participants with better English skills.