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Changes in Employment
In recent years, there have been dramatic changes in employment
which have affected practically all members of the work force. The
changes include the decline of traditional industries, such as coalmin-
ing, shipbuilding and steel-making, creating structural unemployment,
technological unemployment among both manual and white-collar
workers, owing to the increased use of computers and automation, or-
ganizational changes in big companies, which have reduced the size of
firms and the number of managers, flexible working, which has replaced
full-time jobs by a variety of part-time and temporary jobs.
Let us examine these changes – and their effects – in more detail.
For the last 30 years or so, there has been a gradual decline in the tradi-
tional industries of shipbuilding, steel-making and coalmining, which
were the basis of the first industrial revolution. Hundreds of thousands of
miners, shipyard workers and steelworkers were made redundant. Struc-
tural unemployment affected: mainly manual workers in the primary and
secondary sectors. However, technological change, which was brought
about by the increasing use of computers and automation, affected both
manual and white-collar workers. During the 1980s and 1990s, many
office workers and managers were made redundant as computers: took
over their jobs.
Increasing foreign competition, particularly from the Far East, forced
many British companies to become more efficient by cutting costs.
Companies did this by: downsizing, or dismissing employees, which in-
creased productivity as the same amount of work was now done by a
smaller number of employees, contracting out the work of whole sec-
tions or departments, such as publicity, to specialist firms which could
do the work more cheaply, reducing the size of the company, by selling
off unprofitable businesses.
Between 2000 and 2005, Britain’s 100 biggest companies shed almost
400,000 jobs. ВТ got rid of the biggest number – 88,500 jobs. To save
even more money, many big companies started to replace permanent
full-time jobs by part-time temporary jobs. They retained a core of key
workers with special skills. These employees have full-time jobs with rea-
sonable job security and chances of promotion. However, the remaining
employees, the flexible work force, are employed only when their labour
is required. This reduces a company’s salaries and wages bill, but adds
greatly to the employees’ feeling of insecurity.
There is a great range of flexible working, including:
Short-term contracts. Employees are given a short-term contract for a
year or 18 months instead of a permanent job.
Part-time work. There has been a huge rise in part-time jobs of all
kinds, ranging from the unskilled office cleaner’s to the highly skilled
computer consultant’s. They have increased four and a half times, to
over 6 million, in the last 10 years.
Temporary work. At one time, temporary workers were used mainly
to cover for permanent employees who were ill or on holiday. That has
changed. In some big companies, up to 10 per cent of the work force are
temporary workers. This cuts a company’s costs as ‘temps’ are employed
only if there is a special job to be done.
Teleworking. There has been an increase in teleworking, or working at
home using computers and information technology to maintain contact
with company headquarters. About 6 per cent of firms use teleworking
Some progressive employers look after their employees better by pro-
viding flexible hours instead of flexible work. This gives employees more
choice about when they work, which is particularly useful for working
mothers. There are various forms of flexible hours, including:
Flexitime or flexible working hours. Employees work an agreed num-
ber of hours of core-time each day, but may choose when they work the
rest of their hours.
Four-day week. By working longer hours, employees do five days’
work in four days and have the other three days off. Term-time working.
Parents (usually mothers) work full-time during the school terms, but
have unpaid leave during the school holidays so that they can look after
Job sharing. Two people share the same job and split the salary be-
tween them. One might work in the morning and the other in the after-
noon or they might work alternate weeks.
Career breaks. An employee is allowed to take unpaid leave for a year
or more and can return to the same, or a similar, job at the end of the
break. This is useful for women who have to look after children or rela-
tives; for study; or for employees who want a refreshing break.
1. Describe flexible working in your own words.
2. How do flexible hours benefit employees?
3. What has caused a large-scale redundancy?
Date: 2015-12-13; view: 226; Нарушение авторских прав