The fifth instalment in our series of conference snapshots features our Senior Economist, Duncan Brown, who gives his take on some of the emerging trends in the British economy, particularly the growth of two industry clusters that have seen particularly big growth in the post-recession labour market.
What are the emerging trends for tomorrow’s workforce?
The emerging trends come in short term and long term. In the short term, we’re in the midst of Brexit wherever that’s going. We’ve seen unemployment fall, so we’ve got quite a robust and tight labour market. There’s Brexit; there’s talk of declining growth in parts of Europe; there’s China that’s got its own problems. All of these things mean that the economic outlook has quite a lot of uncertainty in there.
If we look over the longer term we’ve got factors like technology, trade, and migration, all of which can take the economy and the labour market in very different directions, which have big implications for people in the labour market, recruiting, working, educating. Where you take it from there, in terms of how you respond, will depend on a lot of variables.
Jobs of the future
The economy is changing all the time and what we’ve seen since we emerged from recession a few years back is that these two big clusters of industries that have really been growing in that time: the “knowing economy” and the “sorting economy”.
The knowing economy as we call it, is things like professional services, creative, and digital. These jobs are often very highly skilled, analytical, and interpersonal — all of that matters. It’s really changing economies down in the South East, and in places like Leeds in Manchester and so on. The rest of country is less likely to share in that.
There’s another part of the economy — another cluster of industries — which we call the sorting economy. This is logistics, e-commerce, business services, and call centres. These jobs are often lower in skill levels, often revolve a lot more around the lower level processing skills, physical skills, those kind of things, but they’re growing in great numbers. Hundreds of thousands of jobs created and these are spread up and down the country, if anything a little less so in the South East. Parts of the country where often manufacturing would have been left behind, you see these large warehouses emerging. That’s the sorting economy.
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