The growth of the service sector has created more employment in this sector

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Throughout this essay I aim to examine the way in which the service sector has created a rise in employment. Firstly, I asked myself- what is work? Work can be paid or unpaid; hours can vary from full to part-time or even job share. Many people define ‘work’ with different ideas. Some may simply believe that work is employment, whereas others may argue that activities such as washing up, ironing, child-minding etc. are all ‘work’. Marx (1818-83) felt that work; the production of goods and services, was the main supply from which people gained happiness and fulfilment.

He believed that work should be regarded as the most important activity in a persons’ life. How we work has changed drastically throughout the years. Before industrialisation Britain was greatly associated with textile production and agriculture. Industrialisation created time concepts- it segregated the day, hence work was timed. Some may say it also created a division of labour within the factories, where work would be divided up into production sections (start of mass production) although, Marx would not agree and argue that Capitalism was the cause for change and not industrialisation.

A considerable amount of the world’s manufacturing is now carried out in south east Asian countries where there are many supplies of cheap labour. The growth of technology has seen changes to the way we work, we are now less labour intensive but the nature of work is more repetitive. The shortage of labour intensive employment has forced men to re-skill because the primary and secondary employment sectors that they once worked within have declined considerably, most things are now out-sourced from other countries.

The tertiary sector is growing rapidly and female employment levels in this sector are high. This growth throughout the service sector (tertiary sector) is what is known as the feminisation of labour. The industrialisation revolution created modern phenomena in relation to the separation of work and leisure. Before the time of the industrialisation revolution work and leisure were integrated. When the mechanisation of production in industries set working hours for their employees for production needs the separation between work and leisure began.

The work-life balance is a term that we are all familiar with; we all strive to find the ideal balance between work and other aspects of our life. Is the balance equal in males and females? That depends greatly on the family and views towards work. From a feminist perspective the quote “The subordinate and generated status of domestic labour and its popular classification as non-work is a valuable reminder of the significance of patriarchal ideology in the evaluation of work” (Grint 1991) suggests that housework should be valued more as ‘real’ work and the idea of it just being a direct chore for a woman is wrong.

However, historically this statement varies- With reference to a recent article by Sarah Ledger (News and Star, Whitehaven) in 1995 mothers spent an average of 78 hours on domestic tasks per week whereas now in 2005 they spend an average of 48 hours on domestic tasks, this may be due to new technology e. g. dishwashers and Hoovers which are more efficient, therefore less time consuming. Sarah Ledger continues to say “The domestic tasks may be less physically demanding but he hours saved are filled with other duties- some just as onerous and wearing as those undertaken by the mothers in the 1950s. The work-life balance may not be quite so balanced for some people when you take into account other duties such as housework and childcare. Today women have little choice to opt out of working; they are paying for expensive rent/ mortgages. Increased house prices mean that families with two parents must both work longer hours, therefore creating more jobs within the service sector for duties/activities which they simply cannot find the time to do.

Take childcare for example, parents go out to work to pay the bills and afford things for there children but in order to work they must have childcare, good childcare is expensive which means the parents have to work more and more hours- the cycle continues. The tertiary sector is made up of thousands of jobs which provide a service such as child-minders, gardeners, bank cashiers, nurses, carers etc. Some service sector jobs exist and are fuelled by our gain of leisure time due to the nature of work today, such as gym workers and beauticians.

This in turn has led to the commercialisation of leisure. Many women have been pressured back to work after having their children for financial reasons others choose to work to boost their self-esteem and to gain financial independence. The government have made it easier for women to return to work after having their children with new legislation including maternity pay and working family’s benefits. Figures show that the proportion of women returning to work within a year after childbirth has increased from 45% in 1988 to 67% in 1996. Figures taken from women’s incomes over the lifetime- the mother gap, The Women’s Unit, 2000). Many women choose the option of working part-time to juggle the responsibility of childcare for their young children.

Some may say that the fact that only 5% of men are part-time permanent employees in contrast to 34% of women, suggests that more women stay at home and look after the children or complete domestic jobs within the house than men. Figures from Trends in Female Employment, C Bower, 2000) The under-pinning reason for this may be because of the glass ceiling effect (vertical segregation) which men hold higher positions than women in managerial and corporate businesses. This is where men gain the highest rank position over women therefore earning more money.

General secretary Brendan Barber said “Fair pay for women is moving at snail’s pace. Some are getting higher-paid jobs, so the overall gap with men’s pay has fallen very slightly, but women who choose to work part-time are still punished with paltry pay. Perhaps this is why more women might choose to work part-time while their partner goes out to work full-time for the simply reason that they can earn more money. The roles of women and men are now less divided than they used to be before the war, before the introduction to the reserve army of labour (women) had occurred. The division of male and female roles is being slowly eroded for instance fireman is now fire-fighter this is known as horizontal segregation. To conclude the growth of the tertiary sector has brought about it a huge rise in employment.

The nature of the work is mainly services which we feel that we either don’t have time to do such as housework or gardening or jobs within the leisure industry which we can spend our disposable income on. The traditional role of the female both in the home and at work is being questioned by women today, more and more women are going out to work, this is because of the pressure on women to “have it all” by this I mean a good career, a good image, and a good standard of family life, this may not be as easy to perform if it were not for the service sector.

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