The pandemic has underlined the importance of many so-called unskilled jobs. The label ‚’unskilled‚’ harks back to the days when most employment was in the manufacturing sector but it has become increasingly irrelevant for decades. Many of the jobs in our extensive service sector demand traits such as interpersonal skills, conscientiousness, initiative and flexibility which are very difficult to develop through training but which are invaluable if these jobs are to be done well. Think of a street sweeper meticulously going after the tiniest piece of litter; or a hospital porter cheering up a patient with a smile. Many of these roles which carried the derogatory title of ‚’unskilled‚’ before the pandemic are now acknowledged to be vital in keeping our whole society functioning smoothly. The problem that has been highlighted is however much bigger than just the label: ‚- Can it be right that people working full-time do not earn enough to live on? Unemployment levels may have come down but only to be replaced by insecure, low-paying jobs which then often require the workers to apply to the state for benefits to supplement their earnings. ‚- The problem of low pay is exacerbated by the grotesque disparity between the highest paid and the lowest paid. The relative pay differential rubs salt into the wound of the inadequate actual level of pay The IFS Deaton Review on Inequality will provide a wealth of analysis and proposals to help tackle this problem. Let‚’s consign our weekly ‚’Clap for Carers‚’ or Clap for Heroes‚’ to the bin and replace it with the pay, security and respect these jobs deserve.
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