Labour markets, engineering workers, and redundancy in west Newcastle
This is a study of the mechanisms and processes involved in people’s distribution to jobs. To this end labour market behaviour of two samples of redundant male engineering workers from the North East of England is contrasted and compared. The research is set in a framework that recognises the existence of a market structured to induce a complex interplay of both hierarchical and lateral organisation and movement, with certain people tending, at particular times, to lock into a horizontal multi-employer pattern of job change, and others staying immobile within the confines of a single institution. Within this broad framework there may be tendencies for both hierarchical and lateral segmentation to occur inhibiting mobility for different groups of workers. The inhibitions may not, however, be of life-time significance with the consequence that any differentiation may not be a permanent distinction. At particular times in their lives, or in certain circumstances, individuals may switch from a lateral to a hierarchical pattern of movement, or cross over from one segment to another. A major aim is to specify the nature of any segmentation or sectoral divisions and to look at the role they play in the distribution of labour, particularly by seeing- how they affect people's attempts to exercise choice and discretion in pursuit of work objectives. To this end, people's work objectives and orientations are traced through time and different contexts, including redundancy, and changing perceptions and motivations are related to labour market strategies and final destinations in the job structure. Certain factors - such as 'job interest', 'good pay', 'security', etc - liable to rank amongst an individual’s scale of employment priorities, and/or feature as characteristic of work-places in Newcastle, are focussed upon and examined, and evaluated for their significance as general labour market 'structuring agents', serving to sub-divide the work-force into different segments. The extent to which the influence of these 'structuring agents' can vary with time and circumstances, as workplace conditions, opportunities in the market, and people's orientations, change, and the consequences this has for hierarchical and lateral divisions and movement, is studied. Research findings are discussed and evaluated in the light of existing labour market theories.