Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Pyramid Builders

All the excitement of the 'Budget' today but I very much doubt we'll see the mailed fist behind the velvet glove until after the General Election, regardless of who wins. Certainly, Labour isn't going to give us the bad news now and further damage its position in the polls.

Here in Thanet, unemployment is now running at 6%, the worst figure in many years and the problem is concentrated in familiar pockets of deprivation across the island. Once the figure of 5% in any population is crossed, quick solutions become very hard to find as the statistics reflect a more worrying national economic picture.

The most fundamental challenge facing all the political parties lies in the changing nature of work and indeed the workforce. I've a full thirty-minute lecture devoted to this and haven't the space to bore readers with it here. It's best to imagine a pyramid, with the highly skilled professionals at the apex and the skilled trades, such as electricians and plumbers at the base. Most of the population, particularly in a service economy exist between the two but over the last decade and increasingly over the next, automation and outsourcing is doing away with huge swathes of middle-pyramid jobs, such as bank staff, very soon, civil servants, call centre staff and more. This is also eating its way up the pyramid towards the apex, where the likes of computer specialists and programmers are also being outsourced and automated away from the UK.

The result of all this is an uncompetitive vacuum in a broadly-based service economy that has lost the greater part of its manufacturing capability, unlike Germany. All Government can offer is talk of skilled jobs and a new economy but realistically, we are now so far behind the global curve, as is Europe in general, that nothing short of a new industrial revolution and a complete review of working practises is going to pull us back to competitiveness.

Meanwhile, I see that the Trade Union, Unite, has its own plans for a revolution and the reform or taking-over of the Labour Party, as emails show in the illustration.


Anonymous said...

The biggest problem in Thanet was to allow the development of Westwood Cross into a retail site, with the closure of all the manufacturing units, and the loss of employment of skilled jobs in the various industries. The larger retail shops in the three towns just reduced their overheads and moved to Westwood, no more employment, just less.

Richard Eastcliff said...

Electricians and plumbers at the bottom of the pile eh? Good luck next time your house springs a leak Doc!

DrM. said...

The pyramid model best describes a narrow number of highly specialised and highly paid workers at the apex, for example computer games developers and a far broader number of skilled and semi-skilled professionals in trade-type skills at the base.

The remainder of us can be found between the two and are steadily being automated out of existence or outsourced to Mumbai!