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16                    Labour Market Trends



          Essential trends within Britain from the late 1990s, projected until 

at least 2006. (2008 editing.)


          The service sector is expanding, manufacturing in decline.  The service sector ranges from catering to financial services, leisure to health and social care.


          There is a paradox here, however: while the better jobs within the service sector are still subject to fierce competition, with an increasing need for higher qualifications,  there are many manufacturing-related vacancies, particularly in engineering.  It may well be that the skills shortages in engineering and science are partly caused by the perception of British manufacturing as in its death throes: young people have seen no future there and failed to train or apply for jobs.  As a result in the longer term, there are considerable opportunities within  these apparently failing sectors for those with an interest.


          Rapid increase in computing, information and other forms of new technology.  Although this may go without saying, some points should be noted.  Applicants still need to be suited these career routes to make a success of them.  Computing, where people are likely to design and create hardware and software, requires people with a good grasp of mathematics and, in particular, an ability to work logically. Demand is likely to endure in this area.  Information technology, much more related to the use of computer applications that have already been built (databases, spreadsheets, networks, integrated business systems), is less demanding in terms of scientific aptitude, but still requires a disciplined mind and a liking for computers.  The communications industry should not be overlooked for possible career routes. Jobs in computing are less easy to find than they were.


          It should also be noted that more than a narrow core of knowledge is required in computing.  Recent research by the author into the needs of employers in the sector reveal that a good general level of education is also needed, as well as communication and team skills.  Those without any computer knowledge or general education who are tempted by the opportunity to train quickly (e.g. taking MCSE examinations) are likely to either fail at interview or soon into their new job.


          Smaller companies employ more people than the conglomerates.   People may be attracted to the idea of entering ‘big name’ firms.  Depending on the person’s preferences and aptitudes, they may find more varied experiences and interpersonal relations within a smaller organisation, where disciplines may overlap all the time, rather than in one department of a larger one.  A person with less of a liking for unclear boundaries, however, may prefer the corporate approach. 


          Qualifications proliferate.  Although this is more of an academic issue (literally), this is an important factor in career progression. 

źGNVQ Intermediate, BTEC First Certificate  and some City & Guilds qualifications, along with NVQ2, work alongside GCSE (‘O’ Levels).  

źGNVQ Advanced, BTEC National Diploma and other C&G qualifications, run in parallel with GCE ‘A’ levels.  The new ‘Curriculum 2000’ modularises and mixes and matches GNVQ Advanced and ‘A’/AS levels; these are becoming vocational A levels. 

źWithin higher education,  beneath full degree level, the traditional HND/HNC (Higher National Diploma/Certificate)  - a vocational course - may become confounded with new ‘foundation degrees’ as a way of progressing towards a degree.

źMany other qualifications (e.g. specialist diplomas) have been introduced.


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CareerSteer – career test for career choice