New IPPR analysis shows younger workers in the UK’s flexible labour market are more likely to experience poorer mental health and wellbeing

Today’s (27 July) new report, "Flexibility for who? Millennials and mental health in the modern labour market" from IPPR, the progressive policy think tank, and Business in the Community, presents new analysis which shows younger workers (born since 1982) in part-time and temporary work – or who are underemployed and/or overqualified - are more likely to experience poorer mental health and wellbeing, compared to younger workers in more permanent and secure work.

In July 2017, the government-commissioned Taylor Review set out the importance of ensuring more people in the UK can access ‘good work’. This new IPPR analysis sheds light on the importance of good work in relation to mental health and wellbeing.

The analysis shows that younger workers in temporary jobs are 29% more likely to experience mental health problems, compared to those in permanent jobs (22% compared to 17%). It also finds that 1 in 5 younger graduates who are in jobs for which they are overqualified report being anxious or depressed (22%) – compared to 16% of graduates in professional/managerial jobs.

The report shows how, over the past 25 years, there has been growth in the proportion of jobs in the UK which are not permanent and/or full time (despite renewed growth in full-time work since 2012). It also finds that, compared to previous generations of younger workers, millennials are marginally more likely to be in atypical and/or insecure forms of work.

  • 1 in 4 younger workers are in part-time work (26% in 2014, compared to 24% in 2004)
  • 1 in 11 younger workers are in temporary work (9% in 2014, compared to 9% in 2004)
  • 1 in 11 younger workers are self-employed (9% in 2014, compared to 7% in 2004)
  • 13% of younger workers are graduates working in non-professional / managerial jobs – almost double the rate compared to 2004 (7%)
  • 1 in 5 younger workers aged 16-24 are underemployed (19%) – more than double the rate among workers aged 25 and above

The report’s other key findings include:

  • Younger workers in part-time jobs are 43% more likely to experience mental health problems compared to those in full-time jobs (20% compared to 14%).
  • Younger workers in part-time jobs are also 33% more likely than those in full-time jobs to fall within the bottom 10% of the English adult population according to mental wellbeing (aged 16 and above).
  • Younger workers in part-time jobs are 7 percentage points less likely than those in full-time jobs to report being satisfied with their life, even when controlling for variables including household income and prior life satisfaction.
  • Younger workers on zero-hours contracts are 13 percentage points more likely than those in other forms of work to experience mental health problems, even when controlling for variables including household income and mental health outcomes during adolescence.
  • Younger workers who believe themselves to have more than a 50% chance of losing their job are twice as likely to experience mental health problems compared to those with no chance of losing their job (24% compared to 12%).
  • The proportion of employees aged 21-25 who were in low-paid work increased by 82% between 1990 and 2015.
  • Employees aged 18-29 are twice as likely as those aged 50-59 to describe their current mental health as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ (16% compared to 8%)
  • 21% of younger workers on low-pay experience mental health problems, compared to 16 per cent of those who are not on low pay

IPPR Senior Research Fellow, Craig Thorley said:

“Good work can help people to lead mentally healthy lives. But for a significant number of young people, their experiences of the modern world of work would appear to be putting their mental health and wellbeing at greater risk. This is particularly true of those who cannot access permanent or secure work, or who are graduates in non-graduate roles.

"Government and employers should work together to promote better quality jobs which maximise the benefits of flexibility, while ensuring that employees feel in control of their own working lives.  Without finding ways to support younger workers to progress in their careers, a significant number risk becoming trapped in a cycle of low-pay, with few prospects and low wellbeing."

Business in the Community Wellbeing Director, Louise Aston said:

“There’s a compelling business and moral case for employers to support the mental health of all their people by embedding wellbeing, which includes good job design, into organisational culture. Responsible employers need to have a special focus on promoting and protecting the mental health of younger colleagues.  All employees need to feel it’s safe to disclose a mental health issue at work with the reassurance that they will be supported and not judged.”

This new IPPR report focuses on ‘younger workers’ (millennials and centennials) who, unless stated otherwise, are defined here as being born during or after 1982.

Underemployment is defined here as where an individual is willing to work more hours than current employment provides.

Overqualified is defined here as being a graduate in a non-professional/managerial job.

An individual is described here as being on ‘low pay’ if they fall below the 25th percentile in the wage distribution. ‘Not on low pay’ describes any individual who falls on or above the 25th percentile in the wage distribution.

IPPR aims to influence policy in the present and reinvent progressive politics in the future, and is dedicated to the better country that Britain can be through progressive policy and politics. With nearly 60 staff across four offices throughout the UK, IPPR is Britain’s only national think tank with a truly national presence.

Our independent research is wide ranging, it covers the economy, work, skills, transport, democracy, the environment, education, energy, migration and healthcare among many other areas.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 9 hours 41 minutes ago

1.6million households worried about payments over winter as mortgage holiday scheme closes; JRF warns that without…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page