Changing Employment Patterns

Employment Sectors

The global economy is divided into four sectors, each involving a different types of employment:

Primary Sector This sector involves people working with natural resources. The largest and most important activity in this sector is agriculture, but it also includes fishing, forestry, mining and quarrying.
Secondary Sector This sector involves making new things. This could either be by manufacturing a good, such as a car, or constructing something, like a house or a road.
Tertiary Sector This sector provides services for the population. The services include commercial services (shops and banks), professional services (solicitors and dentists), social services (schools and hospitals), entertainment services (restaurants and cinemas) and personal services (hairdressers and fitness trainers).
Quaternary Sector This sector is mainly found in developed countries only and involves research, information and communication.

Clark Fisher Model

As a country develops, the sectors which people are working in are going to change which the Clark Fisher model shows.

There are three stages of development. These are:

Pre-industrial stage In this stage, the majority of people are employed in primary industries, agricultural working, fishing and mining.
Industrial stage Lots of jobs are created in factories and industries, e.g. steel, textiles, steel and engineering goods. Chemical and vehicle industries being to develop.
Secondary industries, such as manufacturing and construction, increase in importance in terms of the economy and employment and peaks in the industrial stage.
The tertiary sector also begins to grow while the primary sector beings to decrease
Post-industrial stage The tertiary sector, providing services to the population, becomes the most important sector and continues to grow.
The quaternary sector begins to make an appearance while the primary and secondary sectors continue to decline.

Employment Sectors

LICs, MICs and HICs

LICs Low-income countries, least developed
MICs Middle-income countries, more developed
HICs High-income countries, higher developed

LIC case study - Ethiopia

Pie chart of Ethiopia's employment structure

The primary sector is the largest employment sector in Ethiopia. 75% of people work in this sector, mainly working in agriculture and as subsistence farmers who need the food to support their families. They will often work long hours and in harsh physical conditions to produce just enough food to for their family to survive on. There is a small amount of commercial agriculture, mainly growing coffee which is a major export crop.

The secondary sector is very small with mainly men working in factories receiving little pay. Foreign investment has created these jobs in textile and leather factories.

The tertiary sector accounts for around 15% of the population, men and women, working in services including tourism.

Due to Ethiopia's level of poverty and the lack of work which isn't farming, many people are working in the informal sector. People (including children) who work in this sector work on the streets of towns and cities trying to make some money by selling goods or providing services for passers by such as shoe polishing). The wide range of jobs in the informal sector aren't officially recognised and the people working in them are often subject to abuse and exploitation.

MIC case study - China

Pie chart of China's employment structure

The primary sector is the largest employment sector in China, but unlike Ethiopia it also involves mining as well as agriculture. Coal mining, worked by men, is significant and mining accidents are common showing the consequences of weak safety regulations. Women will often work in farming.

The secondary sector is not as large as the primary sector but generates the most money; driving China's economy. Both men and women work in this sector, manufacturing goods which are sold around the world. The hours are long and the working conditions are quite unsafe but the pay is better than farming.

The tertiary sector is similarly large to the primary sector however people working in this sector and the secondary sector are earning more money, and are able to spend it on services and leisure. Although the working hours are long, the working conditions are much safer than those found in the secondary sector.

HIC case study - UK

Pie chart of UK's employment structure

The primary sector accounts for roughly only 2% of the UKs employment structure. There is very little fishing or mining and mechanisation in farms means there is no need for large labour forces on farms.

The secondary sector isn't as small as the primary sector but is still quite small at 18%. This is down to the deindustrialisation of the UK and the relocation of traditional industries. Despite there still being some factories in the UK, they are now very high-tech and automated reducing the need for a large work force.

The tertiary sector dominates the UK, with people using technology to work from home, known as tele-working. More than 2 billion people are self-employed and work from home, relying on phones, internet and computers. This technology has benefitted many people who live in rural areas who would have to make long commutes to go to work.

Overall, the working conditions in the UK are of a high standard thanks to strict safety regulations and trade-unions representing employees. There is also a national minimum wage and equal opportunities laws to ensure there is no discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity or age.

Globalisation and the global economy

There are three critical parts which are needed for the global economy to work and for globalisation to occur. They also provide links between the employment sectors and different parts of the world. These three parts are:

Networks the things which link countries together, e.g.: transport networks, phones, internet and trade blocs, known as 'spider's webs'
Flows the things which move through the networks, e.g.: raw materials, manufactured goods, money, migrant workers, information and aid.
Players the organisations which influence the workings of the global economy, including transnational corporations (TNCs), the huge businesses empires, as well as many other global organisations.

The major players in the global economy

There are some institutions which are very influential in the spread of globalisation and the growth of the global economy:

World Trade Organisation (WTO), established 1995 encourages trade between countries while ensuring it flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.
International Monetary Fund (IMF), established 1945 188 countries working together to provide financial aid between countries and promoting trade and high employment to try and reduce world poverty.
World Bank Aims to reduce poverty around the world by providing financial and technical assistance to developing countries

Impacts of globalisation


Developed World

Developing World

Trade and foreign investment


Over the past 50 years, international trade has increased greatly. In particular, international trade has grown massively. In 2010, international trade was 48 times larger than it had been in 1970. Large companies, TNCs, have expanded and invested all around the world. Finance, insurance and banking companies have also recently been globalised offering their services all around the world.

The increase in trade around the world is down to several different reasons:

Transport Improvements in transport around the world means it is now easy to transport goods around the world quickly and cheaply. These improvements include large container ships and air transport.
Communication The developments in technology means it is now easier than ever to communicate with people in different countries. Undersea fibre optic cables and satellites now allow the use of email, phone, text and fax for communication between countries.
Trade agreements Agreements between countries has made trade easier
TNCs The growth of TNCs has increased the amount of trade between countries
International Monetary Fund (IMF) The IMF has made it easier for state-led investment in different countries

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

FDI is when a company (normally a TNC) in one country makes an investment in another country. This investment could be buying a business or factory in another country, or expanding their own business in that country. They will make the investment to take advantage of cheaper labour or resources and increase their profit.

China Investment in Africa

China currently has a huge demand for oil and natural resources and is now in search of these resources in Africa. They are investing a lot of money into the search of these raw materials, and part of this project involves building new infrastructure in Africa to transport these materials out of Africa. This includes building new roads, railways and ports. Despite this, critics say that all China wants is Africa's resources and is doing little to help Africa's development as most of the investment goes to Africa's governments, TNCs and Chinese companies, not to local companies. Also, the majority of the workers, close to one million, are Chinese and there are few local workers.

Transnational Corporations (TNC)

What are TNCs?

Secondary sector case study - Nike

Tertiary sector case study - Tesco