Activities in Work and Money Explained
What do you want from life?
This is a useful warm-up exercise to gauge what the class feels is most important: money, job satisfaction or quality of life.
A good extension is to try and think what kind of people would be likely to agree with each statement.
Work for someone else or for yourself?
The idea of working for yourself normally means you belong to one of two groups of people.
The first covers the self-employed like plumbers and builders.
The second, entrepreneurs, who may run a small shop or perhaps employ hundreds of other people.
What goes on inside a business?
It's interesting to note that, even in a manufacturing company, the vast majority of the jobs don't actually involve handling things.
This is why literacy and numeracy are so important. Very few jobs involve only 'practical skills'.
Why do some people get paid so much?
Jobs where it's very difficult to be much better than almost anyone else tend to be quite low paid.
This is why the best cleaner in the world gets paid a lot less than the best golfer in the world.
As a general rule, if you want to be well paid you have to be able to do something that is highly valued but few people can do.
This is why it's important to have a broad range of skills. You're more likely to be able to find something that you're really good at.
What do employers look for?
The filtering approach of
- can you do the job?
- will you do the job?
- will you fit in?
is common to all areas of employment.
The first question employers ask is who would we not employ rather than who would we employ.
So the key is to present your application in such a way that you're invited for interview, which is what the next activity is all about.
How do you prove you're right for a job?
The best indicator that you can do a job is that you've done it before.
Failing this, a good grasp of English and means you should be able to communicate clearly and deal with money - pre-requisites in many jobs.
Qualifications in other subjects are also important, not because you need a knowledge of history or geography per se (though these subjects are valuable in their own right) but because it demonstrates an ability to commit yourself to doing something over a long period of time.
This is also why being able to play a musical instrument would be used as evidence that someone would actually do the job they were employed to do.
How do you make a good impression?
Employers are often ruthless when it comes to spelling mistakes and poor layout.
Why spend time reading a if the person has already demonstrated that they lack care and attention?
All the in this activity are for the same qualifications and experience. They are just presented differently.
Spending and borrowing money
There aren't any methods of borrowing here that are always 'wrong'.
It depends purely on how they are used.
Getting a discount
Fixed prices are useful because they let shoppers browse without undue pressure, reduce the chances of fraud by employees and liberate the shop staff to help customers.
However the price in a shop is strictly just an 'invitation to treat', which means it's the starting point for a negotiation that may lead to a contract, not a contract itself.
This means shops aren't actually obliged to sell the item at that price or even at all.
Similarly you shouldn't feel that, simply because a business offers a product or service at a given price, you shouldn't offer a lower price.
What exactly is money?
The money used in the modern world is called fiat money. This is money that isn't a promise to pay some physical good, like a fixed amount of gold or silver.
So a pretty piece of paper is held to be valuable because people trust that the government won't print too much of it.
Ups and downs of the property market
There has been a tendency in recent years in the UK to believe that property prices can only go up.
By looking at these real trends you should be able to see that this is by no means the case.
The strange benefits of trade
The idea of comparative advantage underpins all international trade.
It has been described as the only idea in all the social sciences that is both true and non-trivial.
But many intelligent people don't understand or accept it even when it is explained to them.
As the economist Paul Krugman says: "Why do journalists who have a reputation as deep thinkers about world affairs begin squirming in their seats if you try to explain how trade can lead to mutually beneficial specialization?"