Study shows how the UK workplace has changed since 1952


Fewer skilled manual workers, more managerial, professional and technical jobs and more pay inequality are just some of the changes in the workplace since the Queen came to the throne 60 years ago, according to new research.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also found that workers are more productive and prosperous than in 1952, but stress has increased, millions of manufacturing jobs have been lost and there has been a huge increase in part-time employment. In addition, the number of company personnel jobs has increased 20-fold since the 1950s.

The number of people in work has increased by six million to 29 million, but one in four people are part-timers, compared to just 4% in the 1950s.

The value of output produced by the economy has quadrupled since 1952, but work-related stress has increased and the rapid advance of technology has led to information “overload”, said the CIPD.

The number of manufacturing jobs has fallen from 8.7 million to 2.5 million, while trade union membership has slumped by three million to 6.5 million.

John Philpott, the CIPD’s chief economic adviser, said: “In the six decades of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, work has continued to be the warp and weft of everyday life.

Her Majesty‘s subjects may devote more of their available time and money to leisure pursuits but even though work has changed in ways that could not be imagined in 1952, the UK still shows no sign of becoming the kind of leisure society predicted by the ‘end of work’ futurologists of yesteryear.

“Although five years into the Queen’s reign as our nation was emerging from post-war austerity the then prime minister Harold MacMillan declared that Britain “had never had it so good”, the average material standard of living was very meagre compared with what in 2012 we also call ‘austerity Britain’.

“Yet in our more unequal society, with the threat of unemployment an underlying concern even during good times, people do not seem much happier about their working lives and many exhibit the symptoms of work-related stress.

“Whatever the future of work, the lesson of the past six decades is that increased productivity and prosperity isn’t enough to enhance the common good in the workplace or society in general.”

The study also showed a widening pay gap between men and women, even though more women are now in employment.

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