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Stuck in the middle of a metaphor : intermediate occupations and some limitations of the hourglass economy thesis

Anderson, Pauline (2007) Stuck in the middle of a metaphor : intermediate occupations and some limitations of the hourglass economy thesis. In: Work, Employment and Society Conference 2007, 2007-09-12 - 2007-09-14, University of Aberdeen.

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Abstract

Evidence from the ESRC Future of Work research programme suggests that an hourglass-shaped occupational structure is emerging in the UK, with the polarisation of jobs at top and bottom of the occupational hierarchy (Nolan, 2001). Despite the implicit suggestion that jobs in the middle appear to be disappearing, somewhat paradoxically, there are increasing reports of skill and recruitment problems across intermediate occupations (DfES, 2002; FSS, 2007; LSC, 2006). This paper argues that whilst the hourglass economy thesis, or a variation of it, best describes recent occupational transformations, it is limited both conceptually and empirically; more specifically, it neglects important dimensions of change within intermediate occupations.