This paper reviews the changing pattern of labour market segmentation in Britain since the mid-1970s. In the early 1980s, industrial labour markets in Britain, along with Germany, could be characterised as dominated by occupational labour markets for skilled workers compared with the predominance of firm internal labour markets in France and Italy. These provided for structured entry paths into the relevant occupations and jobs. Britain’s position in this picture has changed as a result of the decline of industrial employment and the institutions on which these occupational markets were built. The second part of the article searches for new models whose importance is increasing in Britain. It examines the spread of highly competitive conditions for entry into certain service sector activities, such as the media, and ‘knowledge intensive’ services where employment has been growing rapidly. The paper presents evidence that some of these sectors have come to be characterised by prolonged ‘entry tournaments’. These are driven by ease of entry at the bottom, growth of earnings at the top, and a struggle for access to the higher status, stable, positions within the occupation.
Marsden.D, Socio-Économie du Travail n°28 (Économies et Sociétés, tome XLI), juin 2007, p.965-998.