New report reveals digital businesses in West Yorkshire twice as inclusive as UK average

The first ever report on flexible working in West Yorkshire has found that digital businesses in the region offer double the number of flexible jobs than the national average.

According to the report, commissioned by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority in partnership with national flexible working consultancy, Timewise, 15% of roles advertised by digital companies in the region were found to be flexible compared to just 7% for the average digital business in the UK.

The report also revealed that the overall number of jobs advertised as flexible across all sectors in West Yorkshire was higher than the UK average, at 13.4% and 11.7% respectively, meaning it is well placed to develop an inclusive labour market that creates opportunities for people who may be unable to take up roles with a more traditional working pattern.

The region was also reported to have particularly high rates of flexible working in the education and financial and professional services sectors.

Despite these promising figures, the supply of flexible jobs in West Yorkshire – like much of the UK – still lags behind demand from workers. Encouraging more employers to offer opportunities for flexible working could enable more people – particularly women and older people – to progress into more rewarding employment, improving their earning potential and the productivity of businesses.

Cllr Peter Box, member of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Wakefield Council, said:

“Promoting alternative ways of working is fundamental to creating an inclusive workforce that works for people and businesses alike. By encouraging businesses to provide flexible roles we can shape the employment landscape to work for the people in our region who are unintentionally disadvantaged by care responsibilities or part-time education, and provide our employers with skilled and valuable people.

“Positively, much of the comparative data for the region sees us ahead of the UK average on flexible working. Nonetheless, the recommendations in this report are an important and collective call to action for the public and private sectors to help our businesses maximise the potential of groups that are often overlooked in the labour market.”

Leeds-based telecommunications firm, aql, is one digital business that’s seen the benefits of flexible working – both for staff and the business – first hand.

Prof. Adam Beaumont, Founder and CEO of aql and a member of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Board said:

“We’re innovative and flexible in the services we offer our customers and carry that same ethos through to how we treat our team. It wouldn’t make much sense for us to be totally wedded to a traditional 9-5 and miss out on the brilliant people for whom, for whatever reason, that doesn’t work. Put simply, being open to flexible working arrangements helps us recruit and keep the best people and our people are what make us great.

“Digital is one of the fastest growing sectors in Leeds City Region and the fact that technology businesses are taking such a progressive approach to flexible working in our region is good news for both employees and employers. It helps create more opportunities for people for whom a traditional working pattern might not be suitable to develop an exciting and rewarding career, and makes it easier for businesses to attract talented workers whose skills are much in demand.”

Emma Stewart, Joint Founder and CEO of Timewise, said:

“Flexible working is key to enabling people to progress in work and raise their and their families’ living standards.

“We hope this new report inspires business leaders and public sector organisations to work together to champion flexible hiring across the region and adapt their recruitment practices to incorporate more flexible working as a way to attract and retain the best and most diverse talent.

“With key parts of the West Yorkshire economy – such as the digital sector – set for substantial growth, there is a real opportunity now to ensure that good jobs and progression opportunities are shared by all.”

The Flexible Jobs Index, West Yorkshire 2017, commissioned as part of a Combined Authority-led programme to promote inclusive growth in the region, is the first report on flexible jobs in West Yorkshire.

The results are based on the analysis of more than 138,000 jobs advertisements from 80 UK advertising boards between June and September 2017. The report presents key findings and recommendations for both policy makers and businesses.

Different forms of flexible working identified in the report included part-time working, working from home, flexible start and finish times, remote working, term-time working, job-sharing, and annualised and compressed hours.

Read the full report online.