17th Fair Employment Monitoring Report
The 17th Annual Report on the monitored Northern Ireland workforce in 2006 shows that, for the first time since 1998, the public sector has contracted. Although the overall monitored workforce continued to expand, growth was confined to the private sector:
The private sector rose by 1.4%, or 4,428 employees, while the public sector fell by 0.7%, a net loss of 1,309 employees. The total number of monitored employees now stands at 520,839, an increase of 3,119, or 0.6%, on the corresponding figure for 2005.
In the total monitored workforce, of those for whom a community background was established, Protestants made up 56.3% and Roman Catholics 43.7%.
“The analysis and publication of the annual monitoring returns is a valuable tool for keeping track of changes in the Northern Ireland workforce.” Bob Collins, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission said. “This annual snapshot of such a large proportion of our workforce, can also serve to alert us to underlying issues that influence those changes.
Protestant employment levels declined in both the public sector (by 1.6%) and the private sector (by 1.2%). Roman Catholic employment levels fell (by 0.2%) in the public sector and rose (by 2.5%) in the private sector. In the manufacturing sector, of those for whom a community background was established, Protestants accounted for 93% of net full-time job losses.
Comparison of the same sections of the workforce as were monitored in 1990 (that is, full-time employees in the public sector and private sector firms with 26+ employees) shows that the Roman Catholic share of the monitored workforce increased from 34.9% to 43.1%, while the Protestant share declined from 65.1% to 56.9%. The Labour Force Survey Religion Report (2005) estimated that the Catholic share of the economically active lies somewhere between 40.4% and 44.0%. Side by side with this pattern of change, “ Bob Collins said, “is the fact of continuing under-representation for both communities in individual instances in both the private and public sectors.”
“It is at this level, of individual workplaces, that the key purpose of the monitoring exercise is fulfilled,” Bob Collins said. “Where the returns indicate that under-representation exists, remedial action can be undertaken. There is considerable engagement on a continuing basis between the Equality Commission and employers on this issue in the context of the Reviews that all employers undertake every three years. An imbalance in the Commission’s own staff, where there is an under-representation of Protestants and of men, is a matter that receives sustained attention within the Commission and it is a matter of concern and frustration that, despite diligent efforts, this has not improved.”
“Also of concern is the impact of educational under-attainment on access to and advancement in employment, as reflected in the Statement on Key Inequalities in Northern Ireland issued by the Commission at our Annual Conference last month. In addition, the Commission will shortly publish the outcome of preliminary research on the question of undergraduate migration. This represents a significant depletion of Northern Ireland’s potential at the other end of the educational attainment scale, and is an issue which has implications for advancement in employment and for the balance in the composition of the workforce.”
“Of course, the Northern Ireland workforce has undergone other great changes over the past few years, which are not reflected in returns based only on the religion and gender of employees.” Bob Collins said. “The greater the range of information available, the easier it will be to dispel the myths that are the stuff of much comment on issues such as immigration. Whether monitoring the national origin of employees would add to the level of understanding of the changes in the population and would be valuable to those whose work involves the planning and delivery of services merits consideration.”
The 17th Monitoring Report A Summary of Monitoring Returns 2006 can be accessed on the Equality Commission’s website.
Notes for Editors
- In 2006, the composition of those in the monitored workforce for whom a community background was established was 56.3% Protestant and 43.7% Roman Catholic.
- The public sector contracted for the first time since 1998, with the number of employees falling from 194,077 in 2005 to 192,768, a drop of 0.7%. The decline affected both communities, albeit with a larger fall for Protestants (1.6%) than Catholics (0.2%).
- The recent trend of increasing Catholic representation in the private sector continued in 2006 and was 43.6% of those for whom a community background was established.
- Comparing only those sections of the workforce which were monitored in 1990 (full-time employees in the public sector and in firms employing 26+) the net number of Roman Catholic full-time employees has risen by 42.2% or 48,636 employees in the past sixteen years, compared with an increase of 0.7% or 1,449 employees in Protestant employees.
- In district councils, where Roman Catholics are under-represented at the aggregate level, the number of Catholic appointees rose by 5.8% in 2006, while Protestant appointments increased by 7.8%.
- In the health sector, relative to 2005, the number of appointments fell sharply for both communities, with the largest drop experienced by Protestants (19.5%), compared with their Catholic counterparts (15.5%). As a result, the composition of those for whom a community background was established in the health sector, is now 50.9% Protestant and 49.2% Catholic.
- In the education sector there was an overall decline in the number of appointments made in 2006 compared with 2005. The number of Protestant appointees fell by 22.2% while Roman Catholic appointments dropped by 14.0%. Consequently, the composition of those for whom a community background was established in the education sector full-time workforce is 51% Protestant and 49% Roman Catholic in 2006.
- Employment levels in the security-related segment of the public sector continued to drop in 2006, with an overall decline in employment of 4.3%, to a total of 17,371 in 2006. In the PSNI, where one in twelve officers was Roman Catholic in 2001, by 2006 the ratio had changed to one in six.
- By a small margin (51.7%) a majority of the monitored Northern Ireland workforce are women. In the public sector more than three out of every five employees (62.0%) are now women.
- Between 2001, when statutory monitoring of the part-time workforce began, and 2006, the monitored part-time workforce grew by 18.2% overall. Since 2001, the number of male part-timers has increased by 27.0%, compared with an increase of 15.1% for female part-timers. However, it remains the case that 72.3% of the monitored part-time workforce is female.