BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

IELTS Academic Reading Test
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

Employment, Underemployment and Unemployment

The last few decades have been turbulent for the global employment market, particularly in post-industrial countries. Around one third of the OECD labour force is unemployed, and global unemployment figures reached a historical peak of 185.9 million workers in 2003. Beyond this, a phenomenon known as “underemployment” is becoming the normative practice in many industries. Once considered a passing aberration, underemployment is now an entrenched and seemingly intractable feature of the economy that involves people scraping by in precarious and temporary forms of work—typically casual, seasonal, or fixed-term work and often on part-time contracts.

Many scholars have offered their own theorisations of the employment crisis and put forward some possible solutions. Certainly, almost all of these understandings differ over the finer analytical details, but more significantly there is almost no consensus around what anchors the disruptive changes to employment patterns. A majority of theorists stick to traditional models of unemployment, and argue that policy-makers in the West should now focus on finding salvation in the “knowledge economy”, but others find this to be a mythical possibility. Broadly, it is too soon to say who is the closest to being correct, but history is sure to pick a winner.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

One common denominator amongst nearly every scholar is an unwillingness to reflect adequately upon work as an existing social practice, and as such solutions are put forward that are overly-derived from possibilities (that may not even be feasible) further down the track. Andre Gorz, for example, emphasises the need for governments to shift the locus of work away from the abstracted labour that characterises private employment and towards social labour that involves more public activities such as communal childcare, artistic exploration, community work, charities and so on.

This, he suggests, strengthens and integrates human relationships while supporting people in finding outlets for their own creative and personal needs. Similarly, Ulrich Beck suggests that global employment markets are now riddled with risk and a precariousness that demands alleviation. The solution, he suggests, is activating paid civil labour within national voluntary sectors while activating this labour internationally as well. Both of these sound like good ideas, but are they plausible given the present constraints upon governments and people? Neither Gorz nor Beck says.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Another problem with analyses of the crisis tends to be a narrow sectoral focus that fails to problematise existing notions of work and employment. Jeremy Rifkin, for example, argues that the employment crisis is a result of accelerated technological growth that in turn displaces the labour intensitivity of some work practices.

This process is not itself unprecedented, he suggests—in the early 20th century, for example, more efficient technologies in agriculture displaced farm labour in the south of the United States. At that time, however, new opportunities in the industrialising north of the country were able to absorb these surpluses. Rifkin”s thesis posits that this is no longer happening—technological growth is making labour redundant without new opportunities emerging.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Gorz builds on this theorisation to advocate policies, not of generating “new” employment, but rather of distributing employment so that everyone can access a job. In doing so, he suggests, we can use the labour-saving gains of technology to free up time for other more socially meaningful pursuits. The problem with Rifkin”s and Gorz”s approaches, however, is that they assume the divisions between employment and non-employment are still pertinent and ultimately determinative of working practices.

As Hasmet M. Uluorta indicates, however, the employment crisis may not be so much a crisis of jobs (or the number of jobs), technologies or tensions between paid and unpaid work, but rather a crisis of social reproduction—that is, the ways in which we sustain or perpetuate our social structure.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Whereas most scholars look to a renewed labour market for answers, or suggest that we need to bolster the voluntary sector as a supportive mechanism, Uluorta implores us to return to the drawing board and think about what really constitutes “work”. It is not, he argues, solely the domain of employment geared towards production and consumption, but is characterised by production in a broader sense for the purposes of social reproduction as well.

We should no longer be asking “How is it possible to generate employment?” but rather “How is it possible to (re) produce our social existence?” The answers to the crisis, Uluorta argues, are already being constituted as people renegotiate work even in the absence of labour market employment, but legal and institutional mechanisms have yet to respond to these changes.

We are ultimately left with a situation in which almost everyone agrees that there is a global crisis of employment, but there is widespread divergence of opinions over its nature. For some, the solution requires simply encouraging new forms of employment in the knowledge economy. Others believe that we need to balance employment with increased emphasis on voluntary and civil sector projects. Yet others believe that the crisis has in part come about because of a valorisation of employment over other forms of work, namely the work of social reproduction.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Reading Passage 3?

In boxes 27-32 on your answer sheet, write

YES if the statement agrees with the views of the writer

NO if the statement contradicts the views of the writer

NOT GIVEN if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

27. Underemployment is a temporary misalignment from normal economic processes.

28. Steady permanent work practices characterise underemployment.

29. Experts do not agree on fundamental points of the employment problems.

30. Most scholars think solutions lie in emphasising information-based employment.

31. Almost all academics in this field are concerned with options for the future.

32. There will need to be drastic changes to the world economy to fix the problem.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Look at the following statements (Questions 33-40) and the list of people in the box below.

Match each statement with the correct person A-D.

Write the appropriate letter A-D in boxes 33-40 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

A. Gorz

B. Beck

C. Rifkin

D. Uluorta

IELTS Academic Reading Test

33. Work involves more than just those activities taking place in the employment market.

34. Today jobs are being lost but there is no social capacity to make new ones.

35. The instabilities beneath current employment practices need to be removed.

36. Social cohesion and individual expression work in harmony.

37. “New” ways of creating work are already in existence, but not formally recognised.

38. Job creation is unnecessary if existing work is shared out in better ways.

39. Employment problems can be alleviated with cross-border co-operation.

40. Changes in production methods sometimes cut down the demand for labour.

IELTS Academic Reading Test


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 450

Get Latest IELTS Books

IELTS Academic Reading Test

27. NO

28. NO

29. YES

30. YES

31. YES


33. D

34. C

35. B

36. A

37. D

38. A

39. B

40. C

IELTS Academic Reading Test

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Best Hot Selling Books | Get Discount upto 20%

error: Content is protected !!
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x