Developing key skills for a lifetime of opportunity
A Department for Education and Employment case study

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Page 2: The changing economy

Department For Education And Employment 5 Image 4The economy consists of many different sectors including the secondary sector which is concerned with manufacturing and construction and the tertiary sector which is comprised of commercial services concerned with trading activity and direct services such as teaching and medicine.

Since the 1960s, employment in manufacturing has fallen from one in three of the workforce, to under one in five. This has been mirrored by a huge rise in jobs in service industries which now account for over two-thirds of employees. Modern societies are often said to be in their ‘third wave’. The ‘first wave’ depended upon agriculture, the ‘second wave’ saw the domination of manufacturing and today the ‘third wave’ involves increasing emphasis upon service industries.

The Industrial Revolution was built on capital investment in plant and machinery, manual skills and hard labour. Today’s information and knowledge driven revolution is based upon a very different foundation – investment in the intellect and creativity of people. Below are some examples of this trend:

  • The shift to service sector employment has increased the number of people who interact directly with customers as part of their daily work.
  • Team working within projects has increased across all industries.
  • Older technologies are being replaced by integrated approaches to manufacture, i.e. Computer Aided Design and Manufacture (CADCAM).
  • Core people today are required to work flexibly across a range of job roles.
  • Organisations have fewer layers of management.
  • Empowerment has increased the participation of employees within their organisations.
  • Flexible working is changing people’s working patterns.
  • Within the workplace individuals have more independence to manage themselves and their activities, rather than having this done for them by management.

Department for Education and Employment | Developing key skills for a lifetime of opportunity
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