3.2.5 Labour: Employment and Training
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 (126.96.36.199).
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 As old technologies become superseded, those who were involved with them have to move on – often with wrenching social consequences – but, as will be seen later, government attempts to protect jobs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 (188.8.131.52).
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.