Avoiding the ‘McJobs’: unemployed job seekers and attitudes to service work.

Lindsay, Colin and McQuaid, Ronald W (2004) Avoiding the ‘McJobs’: unemployed job seekers and attitudes to service work. Work, Employment and Society, 18 (2). pp. 297-318. ISSN 0950-0170

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Service employment plays an increasingly important role in the UK economy. However, it has been suggested that some forms of service work are unattractive for many unemployed job seekers, and particularly those formerly employed in ‘traditional’ sectors. The argument has been made that these job seekers and others may be reluctant to pursue the type of positions that have become known as ‘McJobs’ – de-skilled, entry-level service jobs which often offer poor pay and conditions. This paper examines whether there is such a reluctance amongst job seekers to pursue service work, and whether it differs between job seeker groups. It also compares differences in job seekers’ attitudes towards entry-level work in three areas of the service sector – retail, hospitality and teleservicing or ‘call centre work’. The analysis is based upon a survey of 300 registered unemployed people in Scotland. A substantial minority of respondents ruled out entry-level service work in retail and hospitality under any circumstances. Older men, those seeking relatively high weekly wages and those without experience of service work (and who perceived themselves to lack the necessary skills) were particularly reluctant to consider these jobs. Differences between job seekers were much less apparent in relation to attitudes to call centre work, which was more unpopular than other service occupations across almost all groups. The paper concludes that policy action may be required to encourage job seekers to consider a broader range of vacancies and to provide financial and personal support for those making the transition into work in the service economy. However, on the demand-side, service employers must seek to ‘abolish the McJob’, by ensuring that even entry-level positions offer realistic salaries, decent work conditions and opportunities for personal development.

Item Type: Article
Print ISSN: 0950-0170
Electronic ISSN: 1469-8722
Uncontrolled Keywords: Call centres; Hospitality; Retail; Selective job seeking; Service work; Unemployment;
University Divisions/Research Centres: Edinburgh Napier University, Employment Research Institute
Dewey Decimal Subjects: 300 Social sciences > 300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 306 Culture & institutions
300 Social sciences > 330 Economics > 331 Labor economics
Library of Congress Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Item ID: 2406
Depositing User: Users 2 not found.
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2008 12:13
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2014 13:37

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