Describe and explain recent changes (since 1945) in the employment structure of the UK

Authors Avatar

Sarah Bewers

Describe and explain recent changes (since 1945) in the employment structure of the UK:

This essay will first describe and then go on to explain the changes that the UK’s employment structure has experienced since 1945, post World War Two.  The levels of employment in each of the different economy’s sectors will be examined as percentages, to show clearly the increase or decline over time. Principally the Primary, Secondary and Tertiary sectors will be described as will the Quaternary and possibly Quinary in the later 20th century, and early 21st century.

The Primary sector involves the extraction of raw materials that all other areas of an economic system rely upon; examples include Mining, Fishing and Agriculture.  At the end of any Primary activity there is little or no value added to the product; low value, high bulk products.  The Secondary Sector involves adding value, and shedding bulk from these products.  There are two types of manufacturing; Heavy industry - processing raw materials directly from primary products (steel to iron ore), and Light industry - assembling products in preparation for the market (car manufacturing).  The Tertiary Sector is the provision of goods and services to the consumers.  There are no processes involved; the products (goods or information) are simply supplied to the consumers.  The Quaternary Sector is a more recent evolution and subset of the tertiary sector.  It has aroused from the new market created from technological advances and is widely known to involve Research and Development.

 The current UK employment structure is as follows; 76% are employed in the Tertiary sector (encompassing the Quaternary and Quinary) which includes the UK’s excellent and rapidly growing financial services industry which accounts for, 22% in the Secondary sector, and only 2% are involved in Primary sector activities.

In 1945 the structure of employment within the UK was extremely different from today.  There was a much higher percentage of the workforce involved in Primary and Secondary activities, where as today the Tertiary industry dominates.  Over 40% of the workforce was employed in the Secondary Sector in manufacturing industries, 35% involved in tertiary activities, and 25% employed in the Primary Sector.  From the post-war years into the 1950s the Primary Sector experienced an immediate and rapid decline in employment levels, this decrease remained at a high rate until 1975, when it began to plateaux and slowly decline until reaching its current level of 2%. Currently there are 13 coal mines in the UK producing an annual output of only 30 million tonnes compared with the 169 mines in 1984 that produced over 130,000 million tonnes of coal annually.  The level of employment in the Secondary Sector has also declined since 1945; however a small increase was experienced first, where the sectors employment percentage reached nearly 50 in 1950.  After this it began to decrease, slowly at first, but began to fall more rapidly after around 1975.  Manufacturing industries experienced a 30% fall in employment between 1971 and 1994.  The Tertiary sector however has undergone an increase in its percentage of UK workforce employment ever since 1945.  This increase occurred quite rapidly during the industrialisation period, and continued into the pre-industrial, however has slowed now and levelled off at around 70%.

Join now!

These changes in the UK’s employment structure described above can be well represented by the Clark-Fisher model below.  The development over time of an industry can clearly be observed, as the relative number of those employed in each sector changes as the country develops.  This model is able to demonstrate the changes experienced by the UK so clearly as it was initially based upon the employment structure change overtime in both The USA and the UK.


The reasons for these variations in employment structure over time vary for each ...

This is a preview of the whole essay