Labour Market

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What are some key characteristics of the modern UK labour market?

The labour market is defined as the supply and demand of human effort in order to make goods and services, which are bought and sold under terms which in law are deemed to constitute a contract. The commodities made are not for the satisfaction of the immediate needs of the labourers but they are for sale, exchange and for profit generation. The UK labour market has however moved from the primary to the service or tertiary sector. There is more competition in the modern labour market with freedom of entry. A characteristic of the modern UK labour market is its level of gender inequality. This is as a result of division between the male and the female labour forces and is known as occupational gender segregation (OGS). This refers to the fact that “men and women are concentrated in different types of jobs, based on prevailing understandings of what is appropriate ‘male’ and ‘female’ work.” (Giddens, 2009) OGS can be vertical, where women are concentrated in less influential jobs, or horizontal, where most women work with other women and men with other men. Women tend to do the low skilled, part-time and low paid jobs which are usually termed the five ‘Cs’: caring, catering, cleaning, clerical work and cashiering. Due to rising unemployment, most women take on these jobs particularly when they have responsibilities such as childcare. Picking up low skilled jobs does not mean women are low skilled. It is estimated that the pay gap between males and females in the same class and with same qualification is 17 percent for men after three years. This might be because employers do not want to lose out when females are off work. “Over the last decade, a male graduate could expect to earn on average 20 per cent more than a female graduate – however the gap was marginally wider for non–degree holders at 23 per cent.” (ONS, 2011) The modern UK labour market discriminates against ethnic minorities. This...
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