During the election and since I have noticed a lot of talk in the media and by politicians asking what working people actually want. A question that isn’t asked so often, but is interesting and relevant, is what is it that working people actually do.
When politicians want to be seen to be concerned about the working population, they tend to put on a hard hat and head to a factory or construction site. This may make for a wonderful photo opportunity but it bears little relation to real jobs in the UK today.
The BBC recently reported that less than one in ten people work in manufacturing and the figure is even less for the construction industry. Compared to that, four out of five people work in the service industries.
The service sector covers a vast range of jobs from bankers to plumbers, as well as public sector employees. It has been an area of massive growth in recent years, especially in public administration, education and health.
The BBC analysis also shows that there has been a huge growth in female employment and that they now represent nearly half of the workforce. In many instances there is a serious issue around the gender pay gap but rising female employment is considered to be a significant factor in the increase in living standards in the last fifty years.
There is also clear evidence that the working population is ageing. One in three people currently in work is over 50 compared to one in five as recently as 1992.
The other major employment trend is self-employment. There are currently nearly five million self-employed people in the UK doing jobs ranging from courier to management consultants. This represents an increase of 50% since the turn of the century.
There has also been a huge increase in the so-called gig economy in recent years, together with increases in zero-hours contracts and agency work.
Full time employment is still the norm, however. Nearly two-thirds of workers have full time jobs for an employer with an average working week of 32 hours, just an hour less than twenty-five years ago.
For more of this fascinating analysis visit this BBC website: