Graduates lucky enough to be in work can expect 2013 to be a “hard year of slog” which will result in a “simmering distrust of bosses”, according to a new report which warns of longer hours, a continued squeeze on pay and fewer jobs being created in the year ahead.

Employees will cling to their positions as job insecurity remains high, predicts John Philpott, director of The Jobs Economist. And young workers will be forced to adopt a “grin and bear it” attitude, in the knowledge that the jobs market will remain tough for some time to come.

The economist’s report also forecasts that unemployment will increase by 120,000 to 2.63 million in 2013 because growth in the workforce will exceed the number of jobs being created. This contradicts the government’s hopes that overall unemployment will continue to decrease, as it appears to have begun to do already. Youth unemployment will fall but remain high at 900,000, while long-term unemployment will remain broadly the same.

The gloomy job market will continue to impact workers’ pay. As wage increases remain smaller than inflation, many workers will experience an effective wage cut, as they have less money in their pocket than they did last year. Coupled with and an ever-growing workload – as redundancies are made and departing staff are not replaced – relations between bosses and workers will be strained. Under these conditions, grumbling private sector workers are unlikely to have much sympathy for public sector employees who complain about pay freezes, redundancies and cuts to their pension schemes. Philpott said:

“Our jobs outlook for 2013 is relatively optimistic in that we expect only a modest rise in unemployment. However, the fact that this can be considered good news merely underlines the harsh reality of current economic austerity.

“GDP [gross domestic product, the UK’s economic output] may grow somewhat faster but 2013 will be another year of hard slog, with longer hours for those lucky enough to have jobs and a further squeeze on living standards for workers and the jobless alike.

“Hard-pressed private sector workers are likely to keep their heads down and get on with the job rather than actively stand shoulder to shoulder with striking public sector trade unionists.

“Workplace disgruntlement in the private sector will instead take the form of simmering distrust of bosses, especially those who adopt the trendy management speak mantra of ’employee engagement’ while piling the pressure on overstretched staff.”

Graduate Fog doesn’t have a crystal ball, but let’s hope that not all of Philpott’s bleak predictions turn out to be accurate. The UK has a wealth of young talent and energy and it would be a tragedy to see that crushed as a result of short-term cost-cutting by employers.

What do you think of these predictions? If the economy doesn’t pick up fast, will relations between bosses and workers continue to suffer? Or are they already under strain? Do you expect employer to take advantage of the economic climate to squeeze more from their employees, while paying them less?

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