issue 166 - December 1986
Photo: Diego Goldberg / Camera Press
The pace of change in the work world makes us dizzy. Where to find it?
How to do it? What can we expect as a reward? Here are the facts about the
emerging trends in employment and how people are adapting to them.
Jobs in the manufacturing industries are disappearing - sometimes moving to the Third World. Some - but not all - are replaced by jobs in the service sector or new information industry. Others are automated entirely.
Shrinking labour market
Large - scale joblessness has been the lot of the Third World for decades. But the queues of the unemployed are steadily lengthening in the industrial world. Finding work is proving particularly difficult for the young.
Three out of four workers can be replaced
by some form of technology
Surviving: The informal sector
People in the Third World are more concerned with survival than the distant dream of a well-paid job. Survival in the urban slums may involve begging, shoe-shining, selling, handicrafts, prostitution, drug-pushing or petty theft. The elusive nature of full-time jobs is also boosting the number of self-employed people in the rich world.
Survival in the Third World City
Percentage working in the informal sector6
When we have a job we give away part of ourselves to a boss. The experience is often alienating and boring. Workers express their resentment in a number of different ways.
As lifelong jobs and careers disappear people are re-evaluating the role of work in their lives. Whether by choice or necessity they are trading wages for more time for themselves.
Percentage of labour force working part-time
Percentage annual reduction in working time per day
1 World Development Report 1986 World Bank.
2 The Remaking of Work, David Cuttlebuck and Roy Hill, 1981
3 Paths to Paradise Andre Gorz, London 1983.
4 American Labour Sourcebook, by Bernard and Susan Rifkin.
5 Working at Leisure, Barry Sherman, Methuen.
6 Surviving in the City, Harriet Rosenberg, Oxfam Canada. These are very conservative statistics for an area that is difficult to gather accurate statistics for.
7 The Future of Work, Charles Handy, London 1984.
8 'Worklife' Magazine, Nov 1984.
9 Occupational Hazards Journal, June 1984.
10 Industrial Relations Journal, Fall 1982.
11 Op. Cit. No. 2
12 Reversing the Trend Toward Early Retirement, Robert L Clark and David T. Barker.