Academic Literature

Labour Market Changes | UK : a summary of the main trends

The National Guidance Research Forum (NGRF) website, launched in 2004 for careers guidance practitioners and researchers as a collaborative project between the Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER), University of Warwick, the International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby and KnowNet, a specialist software company, has posted a summary of the main trends for the UK labour market. NGRF says that “some really fundamental changes in the world of work”, namely:

  • Industrial society to information society : Manufacturing has shrunk and there is much greater emphasis on service industries. There has been an explosion of IT and we now inhabit a much more clearly knowledge based economy.
  • National economy to world economy : It is clear that we now operate in a global labour market. There is greater mobility of people and goods. Multi-national corporations have global profiles. It no longer makes sense to think only in terms of a local or even national labour market. Even those who choose not to geographically move themselves may be affected by global forces. The availability of cheaper labour overseas leading to factory closures in the UK is one example, or the increasing need to speak more than one language in order to negotiate effectively with suppliers and customers based overseas.
  • Core, permanent staff to outsourcing : There has been a trend to contract out in all sorts of industries. Most of us will have seen or worked in organisations where permanent staff are replaced by contract operators  e.g. cleaning or portering, who can be brought in on a ‘when needed’ basis rather than being retained on permanent contracts. Many employees start working life on short term, temporary contracts.
  • Expansion to downsizing : Associated perhaps with the above, there is a trend for smaller, leaner workforces that work smarter rather than harder who are multi-skilled, flexible and able to multi-task.
  • Autonomous working to teamwork :There is a great emphasis on the ability to work as part of multi-disciplinary teams to increase creativity and productivity. Very few workers now will operate in isolation and autonomy.
  • Increasing emphasis on transferable skills and key competencies Even if people don’t change organisations during their working lives, it is still very likely the nature of their jobs will evolve and change. This being so, a key trend is the need for transferable skills which can be applied to new situations and circumstances if required. A key transferable skill might be verbal communication and a competency might be interpersonal effectiveness.

via NGRF – LMI Future Trends.

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