Does the Labour Market in Spain reflect current British trends? Can we account for any similarities and differences?

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        Mamta. Sadhwani                 Module 1

Does the Labour Market in Spain reflect current British trends? Can we account for any similarities and differences?

Many British labour trends are currently being reflected in Spain. However, there are many differences, which will be considered in the essay. Spain has an unemployment rate of 14.2%, one of the highest in the European Union (EU), where as UK's unemployment rate is 5.5%. Aznar's model for these changes are the measures introduced by Prime Minister Tony Blair in Britain.  Labour markets need to be "flexible" to adapt to a higher intensity of workers and job flows.

On 15 July, unemployment in Britain fell to its lowest rate since 1975. The number of people out of work and claiming welfare benefits dropped in June 5.6 percent. Prime Minister Tony Blair welcomed the figures, saying one million more people were now in work than when Labour comes to office in 1997. It was now "possible for the first time in a generation to talk about full employment in Britain," he said.

The fall in unemployment was achieved by forcing people off welfare benefits and into low-wage, temporary jobs. This has been a central part of Labour's "Welfare to Work" scheme, which Blair hailed as ending the "something for nothing" society by "getting people off benefits into work". Modelled along the lines of US workfare programmes, the New Deal was initially targeted at the young unemployed ages 18 to 24 years and the long-term jobless.

There has been an increase in the number of temporary and part-time jobs, often replacing full-time permanent positions. In June 1984 Britain had 4.9 million part-time employees, of whom almost 90% were in the service sector. Moreover, 84% of all part-time employees were women, with part-time work accounting for 46% of all female employment. Firms such as the Burton Group and British Stores have converted many full-time posts into part-time ones: up to two-thirds of the staff of Sears plc are now part-time. Indeed, the increase in the number of part-time jobs explains pretty much all of British's recent job creation.

In 1991 the government launched Opportunity 2000, and initiative to promote equal career opportunities for women in employment.  "Eight out of ten of the new jobs created in Britain in the next 12 years will go to women, according to Department of Employment predictions."1 The proportion of working-age women with jobs is forecast to rise for up to 75.4 per cent by 2006.

There has also been a shift in employment from manufacturing to services, which began early this century, has continued apace, as shown in fig 1. In 1999, 95,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost in the UK.

Fig 1.

Fig 2.

Additionally, Self-employment has risen by 2 per cent since 1985 to 1995 and by 0.5 per cent since 1995 to 2005, achieving to boost the growth of the labour market.

Furthermore, the development in high technology has enabled teleworking. Around a quarter of a million British people joined the teleworking workforce last year, an increase of 19%. This is one of the key findings of an IES analysis of 2000 Labour Force Survey, by the Government's Office of National Statistics, as shown in fig 3.

Fig 3.

Moreover, there as been a growth in the ageing workforce with 1.8 million more people in the 35-54 age group but 1.2 million fewer aged 16-34. Further trends in the UK, include the increase of shifts, overtime, which all contribute to greater flexibility.

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"SPAIN IS DOING GREAT," SPANISH PRIME Minister José María Aznar said in 1996. Since his center-right victory in 1996 after nearly 14 years socialist governments, Aznar has cut unemployment from an embarrassingly high 23% to 15% (fig 4). Last year he took Spain into the European single currency. Under his Popular Party, the Spanish economy created as many as 2 million new jobs in four years.

Fig 4

Since the late 1970s, legal reforms such as the relaxation of restrictions on grounds for dismissal, the use of temporary contracts and the adaptation of regulations governing working hours and ...

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