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Long term youth unemployment is a persistent structural problem for the British economy - this BBC news article provides a ray of hope as Nestle announces extra investment in their training / apprenticeships schemes for younger workers. A more pro-active approach from larger businesses would be welcome - offering paid experience to help break the catch-22 of no job without experience, no experience without a job. Nearly one million young people (16-24) are unemployed in the UK, while youth unemployment in Ireland is 28 per cent with more than 65,000 young people out of work.read more...»
A currently fashionable pessimistic topic is the lifetime prospects of children born into the middle class. Graduate debt, lack of finance to buy homes and job insecurity after they graduate, the list goes on. Alan Milburn, the government’s ‘social mobility tsar’, put the seal of approval on this prevailing angst last month. His Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission pronounced that children from families with above-average incomes are now set to enjoy a worse standard of living as adults than their mothers and fathers.read more...»
There are lots of resources out there for students and teachers wanting to cover the debate about HS2 - here is a brief selection of video clips on the debateread more...»
With a deep recession and persistently high rates of unemployment among younger people. fears are growing about a brain drain in Portugal as highly qualified university graduates leave the country in search of a better life. Peter Wise, Financial Times Lisbon correspondent, reports on what the trend means for the troubled Portuguese economy. Losing "the best of a generation" poses important long-term threats to the competitiveness of the Portuguese economy. Some are moving to Angola and Brazil, the UK has also attracted skilled workers in health care, banking and IT.read more...»
As of today, any employee wishing to take their employer to an unfair dismissal, unequal pay or sexual discrimination tribunal will have to pay a fee. This fee will not be automatically refunded on a successful tribunal outcome meaning that employees who are making choices about such an action have to be aware of the potential financial cost of such an action.
The government argue that this removes some of the burden of tribunal costs away from tax payers and should also reduce the number of frivolous claims made (and thus reduce a further burden on businesses). As such, you could claim that the tribunal fee represents a supply-side policy by the government - an attempt to improve the efficiency of the operation of businesses by reducing some of the red-tape that can stop a business working effectively (particularly small businesses).
Trade Unions are unhappy about the fee introduction. They argue that it reduces the opportunity for poorer workers (or unemployed people who have lost a job) to seek justice for what may have been unfair treatment. An evaluative argument here, therefore, might suggest that the tribunal fee acts as a barrier to fair pay, particularly in cases of discrimination.
Follow this link for some details as illustrated by the New Statesman.
Here's a teaching resource suggested by one of our colleagues who attended the Wow Economics CPD event in Birmingham last week. We were discussing a resource called the Average Wage game (available as an individual download from this website) which asks students to categorise occupations into those jobs with pay above the national average and those below the national average (as per the latest available statistics from the Office of National Statistics, November 2012).
One delegate suggested that they had used a similar resource which starts by asking students to rank occupations in an order which reflects their relative value to society (ignoring, initially, any notion of wages or pay). Having ranked the occupations from the 'most' to the 'least' valuable, the teacher then shows the students the average wage paid to people working in those occupations and leads a discussion on how many of the most 'valued' occupations pay among the least wages.
This is a fantastic starter activity to initiate conversations about wage determination and equality of pay. You may also find this as a good discussion point over the coming weeks when introducing some A2 concepts to AS students.
Click on this link to download the Tutor2u version of this resource developed directly from our delegate's suggestion.
The Wow Economics event has its last airing this Wednesday in London. An all-new version of the resource-packed day will be advertised soon in time for the new academic year.
Miners made redundant from Maltby Colliery in Yorkshire many of whom with decades of experience faced years on the unemployment register when the mine closed earlier in 2013. But some have been thrown a lifeline with the rising demand for miners in the UK potash industry.
Interesting article from the New York Times digging into perhaps the most worrying legacy of this Great Recession, the problem of hysteresis and structural unemployment. It looks at the causes and potential solutions as well as including some great images included below illustrating the concept.
"Unemployment is staying high despite the end of the recession because we are now in a historic transition. Because of automation, globalization, efficiency and other factors, we no longer need the share of people working that we have had in the past. With these trends moving in only one direction, it is clear that the job crisis is permanent and will not go away with better economic times."read more...»
Here is a streamed (and downloadable) presentation on policies to cut unemployment in the UK economy.read more...»
Where have all the miners gone? To judge by the rhetoric of the BBC and other Leftist media outlets, whole swathes of Britain lie devastated, plagued by rickets, unemployment and endemic poverty – nearly thirty years after the pit closures under Lady Thatcher!
The reality is different. There is indeed a small number of local authority areas where employment has never really recovered from the closures in the 1980s. But, equally, there are former mining areas which have prospered.
The scale and depth of the unemployment crisis in Europe is confirmed by fresh figures released by Euro Stat. Unemployment in the Euro Zone was 12.0% in February 2013 and the jobless rate for the European Union as a whole was 10.9%. Last month there were 26.3 million people counted as out of work in the twenty-seven countries within the single market, 19 million of whom live in Euro Zone countries. In the last year alone, unemployment in the Euro Zone has jumped by over 1.7 million but this aggregate figure hides large country differences and persistent regional and local variations. Here is the contextual data to take into the exam:
Robert Nutter explains that, over recent years, the fear that the minimum wage would cause increased unemployment has not materialised, although since the start of the current economic crisis employers have expressed some concerns that employment may be affected in low paid jobs. Another concern has been the belief that a national minimum wage is inappropriate for an economy where costs and labour market conditions vary significantly between regions. The national minimum wage may perhaps provide a living wage in North-East England but certainly not in London.read more...»
An updated glossary of key terms for the Unit 1 Economics paperread more...»
An A-Z glossary for the Unit 1 Micro courseread more...»
|Employment Rate||Employment Rate||Unemployment Rate||Unemployment Rate||Inactivity Rate||Inactivity Rate|
|Mixed or Multiple||64.3%||55.3%||15.7%||15.8%||23.7%||34.3%|
|Chinese & Other||67.0%||51.8%||10.3%||10.6%||25.3%||42.1%|
If you have seen the news stories today showing how workplace discrimination towards ethnic minority women continues to cause the government concern, you may be interested to read the full report. It is available from the Runnymede Trust (it requires registration but it is free) and has been written for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community. There's a brief summary from the BBC, but the full report gives recommendations that you might like to present to students as possible government intervention strategies and get them to evaluate accordingly. The table above gives you a flavour of the statistics that can be used to discuss inequality of income and wealth.
Youth unemployment is higher than adult unemployment even in normal economic times. But in recessions, especially in countries with rigid labour markets, young people typically stay unemployed for too long. In these circumstances, urgent policy action is needed to avoid long-term unemployment, which destroys talent and creates social problems.
I'm sure you don't have any problems convincing your students that education is a merit good/service. Every so often, however, it may be difficult for young people in the UK, aspirational and aiming high, to see how their own learning impacts so positively upon the wider society. Although we constantly debate the quality of education in the UK and strive to improve, many young people will take opportunities to access schools and colleges for granted - perhaps arguing about local differences and the cost of higher education but rarely about actual access to basic education. With such relatively high levels of literacy and numeracy amongst British youngsters it is difficult for them to imagine a society where this is not the norm. The Waseela-e-Taleem initiative in Pakistan, however, could prove a useful example of how government intervention into education is about more than just the structure of assessment and paying teachers - but a country's drive to improve access to basic education and shift its economic as well its political and sociological prospects.read more...»
Here is a terrific example from Matt Smith of how to use Scoop-It to curate lots of useful examples of market failures and associated interventions. Click here for Matt's Scoop-It on Market Failure
You may have been too busy to notice but today has been National Stress Awareness Day. This comes just a few days after Ed Milliband's speech about the taboo of Mental Health and how it impacts upon people's lives. If you haven't done so recently, do check out the World Health Organisation 's website which has lots of data on the prevalence of mental health issues around the world with the most startling facts being that 1 in 4 people around the world suffer from mental health issues at some point in their lifetime affecting as many as 450 million people.
And yet, when was the last time you used this as an example of labour market failure or poor economic performance?read more...»
The “tragedy of the commons” is a metaphor used to illustrate the potential conflict between individual self-interests of producers and consumers and the common or public good.
In the original version of the term, the example is used of a stock of common grazing land used by all livestock farmers in a small village. Each farmer keeps adding more livestock to graze on the Commons, because the marginal cost of doing so is zero. But because the commonly own resource is then over-used or over-exploited, the result is a depletion of the soil and a fall in the value of the resource for all users. The resource may become irretrievably damaged.
The cause of any tragedy of the commons is that when individuals use a public good, they do not bear the entire social cost of their actions. If each seeks to maximize individual benefit, he ignores the external costs borne by others.read more...»
This blog provides a glossary of many key market failure termsread more...»
This Financial Times news video is excellent on issues surrounding high rates of youth unemployment. The number of 18- to 24-year-olds out of work for at least six months has risen by more than a third in the past year to 403,000.
Many thousands are struggling to find work and the lack of apprenticeship schemes and the high level of short term or vulnerable contract work makes it extremely tough to get into formal work. More and more students are looking to establish their own businesses as an alternative. The rapid expansion of student-led entrepreneurship societies based around colleges and universities is a welcome development. So too is the rise of “start-up” milk-rounds at many of the UK’s universities. Challenging times yes, but opportunities will always exist for enquiring minds with ideas to incubate and grow.read more...»
Here is a selection of a recent blog resources on topics that appear on the core Unit 1 Syllabus focusing on changing market prices and examples of interventions to address perceived market failuresread more...»
Here is a superb news report from Channel 4 news about the shortage of skilled workers in the North East of England (an area of high unemployment). Nissan this week announced a big new investment in car making at their ultra-high productivity plant in Washington, Tyne and Wear. But many of the manufacturers along Nissan’s supply chain are finding it tough to get enough skilled people coming througth to make realistic bid for the orders that will come from Nissa. Some businesses are having to turn down contracts because they dont have the extra workforce to cope with the higher volumes of businesses.
Skills shortages are restricting the growth of many small and medium sized businesses especially in manufacturing. Little wonder that Nissan is working very closely with Gateshead College to run an apprenticeship scheme - an example of external economies of scale in action.read more...»
Professor David Blanchflower didn’t pull his punches when he was a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and he is making his mark once more with an attack on what he views as the Coalition government’s lacklustre approach to tackling youth unemployment. Blanchflower is reported in the Guardian as wanting zero national insurance contributions for employers who take on younger workers in depressed regions and localities. And he wants greater investment in vocational education in schools and colleges with the school-leaving age raised to 18.read more...»
This news video from the BBC focuses on a man who has been out of work for over two years in the seaside town of Weston-super-mare a town dominated by tourist businesses where employment is highly seasonal. It provides a strong short case study in the problems of people who have been out of paid employment for a long time. Watch the piece here
Channel 4 news have a special section on the unemployment crisis in the UK economy. Follow this link for fresh teaching and studying resources on unemployment. Follow this link for the Channel 4 News Jobs Reportread more...»
The official figures show that there are now more than one million young people counted as unemployed in the UK although the precise scale of the jobless crisis is difficult to measure accurately. Nonetheless, it represents a fundamental economic, social and political problem and one that policy makers must address.
In this video report from Al Jazeerah, Lawrence Lee visits Leeds to find a well qualified nineteen year old with good qualifications but who cannot afford to go to university and is finding it tough to win a place in the police force - his main ambition.read more...»
Britain is one of the world’s biggest exporters of creative products - from live TV shows and music to books, arts, architecture and films the economy has built up an enviable global reputation for excellence and a growing trade surplus to aid our balance of payments.
Computer games falls squarely into this category but, according to TIGA - the trade association representing the UK’s games industry - unless there is renewed government support, the future of this sector is at risk. TIGA claims that the British games industry is suffering a significant ‘brain drain’ as talented programmers and artists leave the country to work abroad.read more...»
This article on the appalling depth of workless households in Liverpool is a reminder of the multiple aspects of relative poverty and economic/social exclusion.
The causes of unemployment are complex - many are structural - but it is hard to draw much if any optimism from reading this article. By some estimates over one third of households in Liverpool have no one in work and second and third generation unemployment is not uncommon. This is a must article for students to read if they want a better awareness of the human cost of non-employment. Read: Below the breadline on Liverpool’s workless estatesread more...»
After a hesitant start and some time spent getting to know the user interface, I am starting to use Prezi more widely as an alternative to other presentation software. I would be really keen to share ideas and collaborate on presentations with other colleagues so if you are interested in joining up please let me know. Here is an initial presentation I used this afternoon on unemployment policies - focusing on ten strategies to reduce unemployment. The aim is to stimulate discussion among students who can take apart the proposals and substitute their own.read more...»
I blogged last week about unemployment and made available some updated charts on unemployment for the UK and a range of other countries. Here are some short video news clips on aspects of unemployment that I have been using when teaching unemployment to AS and A2 groups. These clips provide a window on the human and social cost of high rates of unemployment and are especially useful in reinforcing the causes of unemployment and evaluation of policies likely to be most effective in bringing jobless rates down over time.read more...»
How quickly do people find new work after they have been made redundant and experienced a period of unemployment?
According to new research published in the May 2011 edition of the Economic Journal, only around one person in every ten unemployed in Britain finds fresh work within a month and nearly half of the extra unemployed created in the wake of an economic shock such as the fallout from the global financial crisis are still without a new job after six months.
If government economic policies and the labour market generally are failing to get people back into paid jobs the impact of a recession on unemployment rates can last for a substantial time period bringing with it increased economic and social costs.read more...»
In the spring of 2010 the iron and steel making plant at Corus in Redcar in Cleveland was mothballed seemingly ending a 150-year-old industry on Teesside and bringing with it an enormous challenge to the local labour market. BBC Teesside has produced many resources on the plant closure that will make the issue of structural unemployment vivid for students who want to understand many of difficulties of getting people back into work who have skills specific to heavy manufacturing. Here is a link to three short film clips on the impact of the Corus closure
Persistently high unemployment create huge costs for individuals and for the economy as a whole. Some of these costs are difficult to value and measure, especially the longer-term social costs.read more...»
The oldest contestant in the new (6th) series of The Apprentice is thirty one! But why should apprentices be concentrated only among those in the early stages of their careers?
The number of people aged fifty and over who are applying for and winning places on apprenticeship schemes has more than doubled in the last few years as this BBC news video explains. Apprenticeship programmes for older workers challenges our common preconceptions about their place in the labour market - and this is a good thing as the debate continues about how best to support and encourage people to stay in work during these challenging economic times. Lifelong learning is not merely a vaccuous slogan - it has a real meaning and is hugely important for the British economy in the years ahead.
This video reinforces the importance of human capital, the need for flexible skills to avoid structural unemployment. And it raises questions about who should and who can fund apprenticeship schemes and their longer-term economic and social benefits.
The Bosch Group - a privately owned German multinational manufacturing business has announced the closure of it’s car parts factory in south Wales with the loss of hundreds of jobs. With 900 jobs going at the factory itself, the final scale of extra unemployment will be significantly higher because of the negative multiplier effects for the local and regional economy.read more...»
David Blanchflower writes in the new Autumn edition of the RSA’s Journal about the help needed to avert an unemployment time bomb especially for younger workers. This piece builds on his recent talk at the RSA. It is a superb article and has some powerful sections on the economic and social consequences of high rates of unemployment.
Perhaps we should expect nothing less from an unemployed Economics graduate, heavily in debt who had become desperate in search of a fulfilling job. Californian Dan Seddiqui went from being homeless and unemployed to getting 50 different jobs in 50 different US states in just 50 weeks and his story is featured in today’s Daily Telegraph
“In just 50 weeks Dan tried everything from being a lobster catcher, a jazz conductor, a TV weatherman and even a Las Vegas wedding planner.” Naturally a book is on the way!
This article is perfect as a starter teaching resource when discussing occupational and geographical mobility of labour and the natural and structural barriers that prevent others doing something similar in their search for worthwhile work.
The TUC has published a report ‘Life in the Middle - The Untold Story of Britain’s Average Earners’ surveying ‘Middle Britain’ in particular, and income distribution across the population as a whole. They define Middle Britain as the fifth of the population (quintile) which earns within 10% of the median income of about £20,000 per year for households in the UK in 2006/7, the last year when full figures are available. The results make very interesting reading, and give some good up-to-date figures on income distribution for use in A2 microeconomics papers.
Here is a revised streamed presentation on market failure in the labour marketread more...»
The giant steel plant at Redcar has dominated the industrial landscape on Teesside for decades. I last went round the site on a school Geography Field Trip in the spring of 2006 and, although it felt a bit like being landed back in the 1970s, there was no denying the scale of the operations and the commitment to quality in producing high-value precision steel.
This BBC article focuses on the economic and social consequences if the Redcar plant closes - it is excellent for students wanting to understanding a little more about structural unemployment and also the negative multiplier effects that come from heavy job losses in a local area. The danger is that the loss of jobs may be permanent and that the region will suffer from an irreversible loss of skills.
The article states that “So as well as the 2,000 Corus jobs at risk, there’s a supply chain equivalent to maybe 10,000 people spread around the region.”
Youth unemployment rates are typically higher than for the rest of the working population. Nearly 4 people out of 10 who are unemployed are aged between 16 and 24. And as our chart shows over 100,000 young people have been out of work for over a year, a figure that has doubled since 2002 although it is much lower than it was when the UK economy was coming out of recession in the early 1990s.read more...»
Paul Mason, Newsnight’s Economics Editor embarks on a journey from London to Wigan and considers the impact that a recession that is officially only six months old is having on the labour market. I used this (7 minute) piece with my AS students this week and it proved to be an evocative video clip highlighting in particular the issues of youth unemployment, structural unemployment arising from the collapse of production and jobs in the industrial heartlands of the Black Country and the hidden aspects of the downturn among the legions of self-employed, in this case the 250,000+ mini car drivers working in the UK. Paul Mason writes about his experiences here.
A related story ..... recession (depression?) in Dublin has caused a huge rise in the number of people applying for and apparently getting licences to drive taxis in the capital. This report in the Telegraph says that Dublin now has 16,000 licensed taxis. New York, with a population 17 times as large, has 13,000…... a good example to use of how macroeconomic difficulties impacts directly on localised markets.
Earlier this month the Prime Minister announced a £140m plan to create 35,000 additional apprenticeship places, of which 20,000 would be in the public sector (and 6,000 with McDonalds, making it the biggest apprenticeship provider in the UK). Lord Young, the minister responsible for apprenticeships in England, promised that those who won apprenticeships in the public sector would be able to complete their training, come what may. This article highlights the plight of a young man who has just lost his engineering workplace experience while studying with one of the largest private apprenticeship training firms in the South West of England.read more...»
My Monday morning edition of the Financial Times carried an important article on the prospects for apprenticeships during the economic downturn. The broad thrust of the piece was encouraging - a number of Britain’s biggest companies have said that they do not plan to curtail the number of apprenticeship programmes on offer to school and college leavers. It is not simply a case of altruism - a number of studies have shown that investing in the human capital of the workforce can achieve a positive payback in just a few years.
“Recent studies have shown that investing in an apprentice is often cheaper than recruiting qualified workers from rivals and then having to retrain them in the procedures of their new employer…...BT had “calculated a net financial benefit of over £1,300 ($1,910) per apprentice a year when compared with non-apprentice recruitment”......A more recent study by Warwick university for the taskforce’s successor, the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network, found that it cost £28,762 to train an engineering apprentice but the “employer’s investment was, on average, paid back in less than three years”.
Why is the success of apprenticeship schemes important for the longer-term health of the UK economy? Many of the benefits of vocational programmes show through on the supply-side of the economy:
A lower risk of structural unemployment through lower occupational immobility
Less pressure on the welfare benefits system resulting from long term unemployment
A reduction in the number of unfilled vacancies for skilled workers
Higher productivity and better paid jobs - which then boosts aggregate demand
Ultimately - higher profits for businesses with successful apprenticeship schemes
Reduced dependence on inflows of migrant workers
Better skilled workers will improve the quality of work and provide a stronger platform for greater innovation in their chosen fields
Improved customer service e.g. in industries such as gas supply, plumbing and construction
The FT article can be found here
The website of the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network is also worth visiting
With unemployment already rising at an alarming rate and job prospects looking awful for the New Year and beyond, the thorny question of welfare assistance for those out of work becomes more salient by the week.
The government has announced plans for what they believe are radical welfare reforms - designed to provide a carrot and a stick to nudge the economically inactive back into the labour market. It is one thing having the motivation and the skills needed to find fresh employment in a weakening labour market, it is another to find the work that suits you best in a part of the world where you want to live. Keep in mind that - despite the recession - there are still over 600,000 unfilled job vacancies in the UK economy and many of these have been vacant for a lengthy period of time.
Tim Harford produced a timely piece on the costs and benefits of unemployment benefits in his piece for the Financial Times last week. It is a good one to read because it brings into play concepts such as moral hazard and the social consequences of people having sufficient financial resources to spend time looking for the job that makes the most of their experience and abilities.