Model Essay: British Culture




[Student’s name and number]


The Current Unemployment Situation in the UK


     In October 2009, unemployment reached its highest recorded level since mid-1995. Even in November, the number of unemployed was 2.46 million and the rate of unemployment was 7.8%, only slightly lower than that in October (“Recession Tracker”). That means the rate of unemployment now is as high as that in 1995. However, the situation of unemployment is different in some ways between 1995 and now. The purpose of this paper is to show that today’s situation of unemployment in the UK is more serious than that in 1995, even though the level of unemployment is almost the same. This can be seen, firstly, from the large number of people working part time, secondly from the fact that the highest percentage of unemployment is among the under-25s and, thirdly, from the expansion of the black market. Each of these points will be examined in turn.

     In some areas, the number of people in employment has actually increased. For example, it went up by 53,000 in the London area during the 3 months to October 2009 (“Unemployment Rise”). At first sight, such an increase seems to be a sign that the British economy is making a recovery, but it is not necessarily a good sign, because this number does not indicate an increase of full-time workers but an increase of part-time workers. The first big difference between now and 1995 is an increase in the number of part-time workers. In the three months to December 2009, the number of people who were working part-time because they could not get full-time jobs increased by 34,000 to over 1 million (“Unemployment Rise””). According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of part-time workers is the highest since 1992 (“More Forced into Part-Time Jobs”). If people have part-time jobs, of course they are not included as unemployed in the statistics, but their lives are often hard and not stable. By deregulating the labor market, companies can ask their employees to cut their working hours. By employing more part-time workers companies do not need to take care of their workers’ insurances and can fire their workers easily. The increase of part-time workers helps to keep the unemployment figures down, but many people who have part-time jobs are doing the same jobs that they had before as full-time workers for lower pay (“More Forced into Part-Time Jobs”). That will lead, in the end, to part-time workers and their families consuming less and, in turn, to further economic recession. That is the first reason why today’s unemployment situation is more serious than might be thought just from the number of unemployed.

     The second big difference between today’s unemployment and that of the mid 90s is the rate of unemployment among Britain’s youth. By November 2009, the number of 16 to 24 year olds out of work had increased to 952,000. This is the highest number since 1992. Young people make up about two out of every five unemployed people in the UK (“Unemployment Rise Continues to Slow””), and the rate of unemployment among young people is increasing faster than that for any other age group. For example, although the rate of unemployment for people aged 16 to 24 year olds was three times the rate for people aged 25 to retirement in 1998, it was four times the rate for older workers in 2008 (“United Kingdom”). There are a lot of young people who want to get jobs, but there are few jobs available. Young people who left school at 16 or 17 are facing a very tough situation because almost a third of them are out of work (“UK Unemployment Hits 14-year High”). Nowadays, it is hard even for graduates to find full-time jobs, and many of them are hired as temporary workers. Young people need help to get jobs but there is not enough support from the government [reference needed]. The UK is now facing a crisis; it is losing talented young people who will create the country’s future. This high rate of youth unemployment is a national emergency [reference needed], and this is the second reason why the unemployment situation today is more serious than that in 1995, when there were fewer young people unemployed.

     The third thing that makes the current unemployment situation different is the expansion of the black market. The UK adopted an open-door policy towards immigrant workers in 2004. This policy gives immigrants from 10 new EU countries the automatic right to work in Britain (“Britain Debates ‘Open-Door Policy’”). This means that a skilled and low-cost workforce has come into the British economy. At first, government ministers said that 13,000 immigrants from East Europe would come to the UK a year, but in fact more than 600,000 immigrants had come to the UK by the end of 2006 (“Britain Debates ‘Open-Door Policy’”). There is also a large number of immigrants who have not registered, so the true number of immigrants could be much higher. The UK has benefited from this open-door policy because a skilled and low-cost workforce from Eastern Europe has helped British companies to compete in a global economy. From this point of view, this policy is a really good thing for the British economy, but there are also serious problems attached to it. One of these problems is the expansion of the black market. The black market is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as “business activity or work that is done without the knowledge of the government or other officials so that people avoid paying tax on the money they earn” [dictionary definition not really necessary]. Companies often hire unskilled immigrants, paying them low wages and denying them proper employment rights [reference needed]. This is a very serious problem, because it undercuts the wages of other workers and even leads to British workers, who earn higher wages, losing their jobs [reference needed]. This open-door policy towards EU immigrants did not exist in 1995, and it is a further reason why the present unemployment situation is so serious.

     In conclusion, there are three big differences between now and 1995. These days, there are many more people who work part time because they cannot get full-time jobs. These are hidden victims of the recession because they do not show up in the unemployment statistics. There are also many more young people who are out of work. The future of the country depends on the young, and it is especially serious that they are facing the pressure of unemployment. In addition, the UK has adopted an open-door policy for immigrants from Eastern Europe, and a large number of immigrants have come into the British economy, leading to undercutting wages and increased redundancy among British workers. Therefore, although the level of unemployment in the UK is almost the same as in 1995, the situation today is very different and much more serious.


Works Cited

“Britain Debates ‘Open-Door Policy’ on EU Immigration.”


“More Forced into Part-Time Jobs.” BBC.


Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Seventh Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

“Recession Tracker.” BBC.


“UK Unemployment Hits 14-year High of 2.38m” The Times Online.>

“Unemployment Rise Continues to Slow.” BBC.


“United Kingdom: Young Adult Unemployment.” The Poverty Site.


TEACHER'S COMMENT: This paper was written at a time when the MLA handbook recommended giving the URL for web pages cited. These days, the style is not to give the URL, but to describe the page as fully as possible (author, title, organization, etc.). Pages which do not give that kind of clear information are probably not reliable and should not normally be used. Check the information on researching a paper and watch the video on researching a writing an academic paper.

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