Labour Market and Human Resource Planning (Byte Size)
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Labour Market and Human Resource Planning (Byte Size)

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The exchange of work for payment is a practice as old as human civilisation and as modern as today's newspaper. We hear of "fat cats" earning too much and we hear of junior hospital doctors enduring the stress of working too much and earning too little. We hear much less about the mechanisms whereby the people looking for work and employers looking for people to do work actually get together. These mechanisms are the mechanisms of the labour market, as everyone who exchanges their work for someone else's payment is part of a labour market.

Matching supply with demand is an activity involving careers advisors, recruitment consultants, job centres and other agencies before it becomes one of the central features of human resource management. Economists explain the way supply and demand works between those who offer employment and those who offer their labour, with the emphasis on the economic aspects of the options open to the parties:

"Theory suggests that job choice is determined by the bundle of wage and non-wage conditions attached to different jobs. Current earnings, employment prospects, probable future earnings, the nature and conditions of work and similar factors are all evaluated by the person seeking work, whose ultimate decision between alternative job openings depends on the balance of net advantages" (Mackay et al. 1971, p. 16).

Here we limit ourselves to those features of labour market data and analysis that impinge on the vacancy filling problems of organisations.