The working industry in the UK has undergone many changes in the last century as imports and exports have developed and the demands for various services have either declined or accelerated. In the early 19th century, employment was likely to based around a family business such as a bakery, butchers, blacksmiths or farming. Industries such as tin and coal mining were also predominant, but as supplies have dwindled, so have the jobs. Local communities were based around such industries and in their demise, there was a breakdown in the local community.
More recently, it has been the supermarket chains that are said to be responsible for further breakdown of community spirit and the local economy. As industries have been lost, other ways of supporting local economy has had to take precedence, and in the product price war this has manifested in low cost shops to keep the price of our daily bread low. It is it a vicious working circle. As people in the UK are working longer hours, time for family, friends and relaxation is a rare commodity, let alone finding time to pop to the local shop for bread, milk and potatoes.
In place of popping to the greengrocers, meandering to the bakers and supporting the local butcher, a trip to a supermarket is an exercise in time economics. However, the more people that shop in this way and don't support the local businesses, the more those local little gems are likely to disappear. The cumulative effect of this is the loss of local businesses that have been in a family for generations. As business declines, product prices have to rise to pay the rent and rates and the less likely consumers that still have time to shop locally are able to keep up support. This leads to dead areas in a town's community, urban degeneration, higher unemployment, with the only prospects of work being to work for an impersonal corporate name for minimum wage, making it even less likely that the local community can afford to support local business.
The false economy present in the major superstores exacerbates the situation. To make the products more appealing and to get consumers in through the door, basic products like milk, bread, potatoes and chicken are fixed in price in a way that does not reflect the real cost of production and supply. These practices are reflected in what is being paid to the suppliers of these major stores. Even when a superstore is using a local farmer to supply poultry to one of its stores, the farmer is often barely breaking even as the market makes competitive selling an impossibility.
Another factor to bear in mind is the import of certain products being a more economically viable option. This takes production possibilities away from UK workers as it is unfeasible for them to compete with the combined cost of products, transport and labour. Ultimately the local economy will suffer as money goes overseas as payment for trade as opposed to the community the shop is located in.
What is happening is a shift from jobs once being available in the UK, being taken overseas. In the competitive economic and job market and in the wake of a global online community, jobs can be outsourced for a fraction of the cost of employing a UK based workforce. This has been witnessed in the trend of call centres. Virtually unheard of 20 years ago, it became the new factory life in the UK, primarily because factory based industries had already been taken overseas; for example in the car manufacturing industry and processed foods packaging. Now call centres are based in countries where the labour is cheap, once again taking the money and employment away from those who live in the UK. It is a growing trend that needs to be bucked by corporate businesses being willing to support fair trade at home as well as abroad.
Shaun Parker is a leading employment expert with many years of experience in the recruitment industry. Find out more about UK jobs at Need a Job for recruitment and employment.