A national survey published today (Monday 8 July 2013) shows that workers in Wales are happier than they are elsewhere in Britain, despite jobs being lower paid and less skilled.  The findings are based on face-to-face interviews with 3,200 workers aged 20-65.

The results show that:

  • Pay is lower in Wales than other parts of Britain – workers in Wales get around four-fifths of the British average rate of pay, and about two-thirds of what workers in London and the South East earn.
  • However, jobs in Wales are less skilled, with part-time jobs among the lowest skilled of all.
  • Despite this, workers in Wales display higher levels of job satisfaction, enthusiasm and contentment with their work.
  • They are also more committed to the organisations they work for – they have higher loyalty levels and they are more willing to work hard to help the organisation succeed.
  • However, good quality work is relatively scarce with workers in Wales saying that it is more difficult to find a comparable job than workers in other parts of Britain.

These are among some of the findings from the 2012 Skills and Employment Survey.  The survey, conducted every six years, is jointly funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).  Additional support for the Welsh sample came from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD).

Professor Alan Felstead, Cardiff University’s School of Social Sciences, and Director of the survey, says: “Work in Wales remains poorly paid and lowly skilled.  Once in a job, workers in Wales fear that it would be difficult to find a job as good as the one they currently have and that comparable alternatives are fewer and far between.  As a result, workers are more satisfied and happier with their jobs compared to workers in more prosperous areas where alternative jobs of the same quality are more plentiful.”

The researchers also note that workers in Wales are more optimistic about keeping their jobs compared to those working elsewhere.  However, fewer workers in Wales have experienced recent job loss and organisational change at their place of work than in other parts of Britain.  Both factors are closely associated with job insecurity.

“With the Welsh economy more dependent on the public sector, the effects of the austerity measures have yet to be fully felt,” says Rhys Davies of WISERD, and co-author of the reports.  “Once they are, the mood of workers in Wales may change drastically and leave us with less to cheer about.”

The reports will be launched today at Cardiff University with the support of the Bevan Foundation.



Notes to Editors

1.   Two short reports have been published today (8 July 2013):

 Job Skills, Qualification Use and Training in Wales

  • Well-being, Insecurity and Attitudes to Work in Wales

A full report has also been published: Skills and the Quality of Work in Wales, 2006-2012: Main Report.

2.   Skills and Employment Survey 2012

SES2012 is the sixth in a series of nationally representative sample surveys of individuals in employment aged 20-60 years old (although the 2006 and 2012 surveys additionally sampled those aged 61-65). The numbers of respondents were: 4,047 in the 1986 survey; 3,855 in 1992; 2,467 in 1997; 4,470 in 2001; 7,787 in 2006; and 3,200 in 2012.  The latter two surveys contained 407 and 587 respondents living in Wales respectively.

The Skills and Employment Survey is funded jointly by the Economic and Social Research Council and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the ESRC Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES) which acts as the host institution.  It is directed by Alan Felstead (Cardiff University) in collaboration with Duncan Gallie at the University of Oxford and Francis Green at the Institute of Education.  Reports available on


The Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research, Data & Methods (WISERD) draws together social science researchers from a number of disciplines including sociology, economics, geography, political science and many more.  The Institute was established in 2008 and is based within the five Universities that make up the St David’s Day Group in Wales: Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales and Swansea.

More at

4.         Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s most research intensive universities.  Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University Chancellor Professor Sir Martin Evans.  Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise encompasses: the College of Humanities and Social Sciences; the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences; and the College of Physical Sciences, along with a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Cardiff’s three flagship Research Institutes are offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places.

5.   Cardiff School of Social Sciences

The School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University is recognised nationally and internationally as a leading centre for the conduct of social science research. Its research achieves a distinctive identity through a combination of inter-disciplinary working, impact on policy and practice, and innovative methodological approaches, both qualitative and quantitative.

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise its research rated first in the UK for ‘research power’ in Sociology. This is a combined measure of the quality and quantity of research outputs, with the majority of its work being rated ‘internationally excellent’.

6.   ESRC

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s total budget for 2012-13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at

7.   UKCES

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills is a publicly funded, industry led organisation providing strategic leadership on skills and employment issues in the four home nations of the UK. More at

8.   Centre for Learning and Life Chances in Knowledge Economies and Societies (LLAKES)

This ESRC-funded Research Centre investigates the role of lifelong learning in promoting economic competitiveness and social cohesion, and in mediating the interactions between the two.  It has a programme of multi-disciplinary and mixed method research which addresses these issues at the level of the individual life course, through studies of city-regions and sectors in the UK, and through comparative analysis across OECD countries. More at

9.   The Bevan Foundation

The Bevan Foundation is an independent think tank which inspires social justice through research, publications and events.   Established on St David’s Day in 2001 as a company limited by guarantee, owned by and accountable to its members. Registered as a charity in 2004.  More at


Further Information

To interview Alan Felstead or Rhys Davies or for copies of the reports please contact:

WISERD Communications Team

WISERD Communications Team
Telephone: 029 2087 0026

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Communications Team

Laura Davies
Telephone:02920 879341

UKCES Press Office

Alex Curling
Assistant Director (Communications), UKCES
01709 774890
07748 090500