3.2.5 Labour: Employment and Training

(This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3 book contents.  An archived copy of this page is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/325.htm)

People can create wealth by selling their time to an employer, or by being self-employed, to provide goods and services; the capacity of an economy depends upon the availability of suitably trained people of working age.  There are other benefits of people being employed:

  • Income from employment supports consumer spending, which fuels economic activity.
  • Employment also reduces the need for government spending on benefits; people help the economy if they support themselves by participating in wealth creation.
  • People’s income from employment is an important aspect of their wellbeing, so the availability of suitable work and its hours and conditions are very important to them – as recognised in Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Appendix 1).
  • People who are employed are less likely to resort to crime.
  • As discussed later, people put pressure on governments if their employment is threatened (

From all these perspectives, it is advantageous to have most of a country’s population gainfully employed.  This, though, is difficult to achieve when circumstances are changing rapidly.  As old technologies become superseded, those who were involved with them have to move on – often with wrenching social consequences – but, as will be seen later, government attempts to protect jobs are at best temporary and can be bad for the economy as a whole (

The amount of wealth that people can create and their value to the economy depends upon their talent, education, experience and effort.   There is an increased requirement for training:

  • New technologies may require new skills.
  • When people have to change jobs they are likely to need re-training. Technology-driven change creates a need for repeated re-education throughout a person’s life.
  • Productivity can be increased by additional training.

Some training can best be provided by employers, if it is for job-specific skills, and apprenticeships can provide both education and experience.  There is an economic justification for some government spending on training, to increase the competitiveness of the country as a whole, either by providing specialist institutions or by funding private organisations.

Training is supplementary to education.  General education can be provided by private schooling or by the State; it enables poorer children to overcome the limitations of parental expectation, to expand their horizons and to help them to find the best way of fulfilling their potential.

© PatternsofPower.org, 2014