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Business brief 5

Employment Trends

The way we work is undergoing constant change as the world moves from the industrial age to the information age. In many industrialised countries, this transition has generally led to a loosening of relationships between employers and employees and far greater flexibility in terms of employment contracts and working hours, with more people working on fixed-term contracts and greater levels of self-employment. Information and communication technologies, such as the Internet and broadband connections, are having a major impact on the way we work and will continue to do so in the future. Many jobs and careers will become 'extinct', and new ones will replace them. Other jobs will be transformed by technology out of all recognition in today's world. Experts predict that most of today's children will be doing jobs in the future that do not even exist yet. The trend of moving manufacturing operations to countries with low labour costs has existed for many decades. This drive towards increased productivity and lower production costs, combined with technological advances, has more recently allowed companies to outsource and offshore other parts of their operations to these countries and regions. Companies are now able to distribute their work around the globe and operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to the FT's Future of Work Report, Asia is the top destination, with 37 per cent of outsourcing projects. But western Europe also benefited, with 29 per cent-the favoured locations being the UK, Ireland, Spain and Portugal-and eastern Europe with 22 per cent. India has become one of the major suppliers of call centres for the Britain and the United States because of the huge number of Englishspeaking graduates. However, it is not only the low-skilled jobs that are being transferred to Asia. I ncreasingly, multinationals are recruiting highly skilled engineering and programming staff in Asian countries and transferring their research and development operations to these countries as well. Free marketeers argue that European countries, like France and Germany, suffer from excessive labour market regulation, such as minimum wage legislation and EU directives controlling working hours. In many eastern European countries, large-scale unemployment and the informal economy are still major problems, and ones that the expanded EU will have to find ways to deal with. Many predict there will be greater mobility of the workforce as people move from east to west to find work. Western Europe, Japan and the United Sates are all ageing societies. As the active workforce continues to fall in proportion to the total population, many have expressed concerns about the impact that this will have on these societies. India and China are now playing an increasing role in the world economy. According to Kim Clark, dean of Harvard Business School, 'We simply have not comprehended yet the full impact of 2.5 billion people coming into the world economy who were not part of it before.' There is no doubt of the benefits and opportunities for those developing economies that have invested in technology in terms of increased employment opportunities and economic development. Secondly, higher incomes in these developing economies not only benefit the domestic economy, but also the global economy, as these are huge potential markets for goods and services.

Employment trends and your students

Your in-work students will be able to talk about how their jobs and careers have changed as technology has developed. They may also have experienced a change in direction in their careers, have retrained or envisage the need to do so in the future. Pre-work students will be able to talk about the jobs of members of their family and the type of job they expect they'll be doing in the future. Both pre-work and in-work students will certainly have views on employment trends in their country/region and in the wider world.

Read on
Rebecca Corfield: Successful interview skills: How to present yourself with confidence, Kogan Page, 2oo6 Matthew J. DeLuca: 201 answers to the toughest job interview questions, Schaum,1996 Spencer Johnson: Who moved my cheese? Putnam Adult, 1998 Richard Nelson Bolles: What color is your parachute?A practical guide for job-hunters and career changers, Ten Speed Press, 2005 Photocopiable Pearson Education Limited 2oo6