Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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1 What external factors affect your sector?

When we think about the world today, it is clear that we can be greatly affected by events that take place well away from our immediate environment. Although our immediate environment is where we live, work and meet other people in our daily lives, we are also connected to and influenced by factors further from home.

Think about the influence of the internet, social media and cheap air travel – these have opened up many people’s horizons in a way that a previous generation would have believed unthinkable. Similarly, we are now much more aware of the impact that events in one part of the world can have on countries many miles away, for example conflict in the Middle East, a volcano erupting in Iceland and the transmission of a virus.

From another perspective, consider also the influence of different levels of government in the UK. Locally there are parish, district, city and county councils, and nationally there is the UK government at Westminster and the devolved national administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

Further afield are the European Union (EU) institutions, primarily the European Parliament and the European Commission. Though the UK exited the EU in 2020, it The EU will continue to leave an imprint on the UK for some time to come, despite the 2016 referendum result, and this is a good example of the need to keep an eye on quickly changing events. Finally, at a global level the United Nations strives to lead on world issues, such as the environment and poverty, to hold the line between nations’ competing interests, and which includes the World Health Organization who directed and co-ordinated the global response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The policies and legislation enacted and implemented at each of these levels affect us all, whether as individuals, workers or organisations.

Activity 1 Remote events affecting the workplace

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Try to think of at least one example of how your workplace, or a workplace that you have known in the past, has been affected by what appears to be a remote event. What was its impact on your workplace? What type of event was it? Table 1 has two examples to get you started – if you can think of several more, even better!

Table 1 Remote events affecting the workplace

Event Impact on workplace Type of event
Coronavirus pandemic Increase in working from home; procedural changes in workplaces (social distancing, hygiene measures), staff fluctuations, increased redundancies Social
Global recession UK government austerity policies affecting local services such as libraries, community centres, waste collection, etc. Economic
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Comment

The specific examples that you provide are not as important as understanding the idea that there are many forces operating across the world that can affect people at a very personal level, not least in their working lives.

The wider context beyond the individual operates at a number of important levels. Just beyond the individual level, the organisation and its structure will be most familiar to you; you looked at this in Week 1. Outside this lies the external context of customers/clients, competitors and suppliers; you will explore this in Weeks 3 and 4. This week, you are considering world trends, national and global economics, and legislative, technological and environmental developments. Being aware of this context will help your understanding of what is happening at the workplace and individual levels. You will examine this in more detail in the next section.

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