During my first class in the term, I attempt to introduce my students to various topics that are useful for painting a picture of today’s world of work. I use the first chapter of Fiona Wilson’s textbook as it covers the following aspects:
- Human trafficking and modern-day slavery
- The growth of the enterprise economy
- Age, disability, employability, unemployment, race and ethnicity as trends in the working population
- Income and social mobility
- Men and women working
- Men, women and management
- Mothers’ and fathers’ attitudes to work and family
- Working hours
- Part-time working
In my class I have students from numerous European countries. Therefore I thought using the 5th European Working Conditions Survey would be very suitable to further illuminate how some of the aspects that the books covers are related to the European work context. Given that my students usually have an interest to learn what happens in Europe and the EU, I believe that the results of this survey could help them to get an overview of what it means to work in Europe (respectively a European country).
This is also the first occasion where my students are confronted with a scientific text. I ask them to form small working groups, to select one of the numerous topics that the survey covers (unfortunately the report does not cover race and ethnicity), to read the respective pages, to summarise what they read on one sheet of paper and to compare their results at the end of the class. The students selected many different topics, ranging from household characteristics (e.g. single-bread-winner/dual-breadwinner), working time (e.g. part-time work, working time preferences) and gender segregation to self-employment, the existence of psychosocial risks (e.g. emotional demands, social relationships), and the quality of work and employment (e.g. work-life balance).
From my experience with doing this little exercise, I believe that I was successful demonstrating the relevance of the topics from the setting the scene-chapter of the textbook for the ’real’ world of work. Furthermore, I guess that this exercise sparked the students’ interest to learn more about work, organisation and management.