Monday, 4 February 2013

Entrepreneurial elderly or demographic transition in action?

An article in yesterday's Sunday Times caught my eye. It concerned the rise in Over 50's in employment, and made the rather confident claim that 93% of new jobs in the last decade have gone to those aged over 50. Due to the Times pay wall, I can't post the link here, but the Express seems to be running the same story on their website.

The headline seemed to imply that older people were leading the way in some form of later life entrepreneurial push. Although the article does refer briefly to an ageing population being partly responsible, it didn't explore the data in any real depth.

I've recently been exploring the UK's census data as part of the Population change topic for year 10. One of the tasks I set them was to explore the interactive sections of the official census website to compare the population pyramids for England and Wales in 2001 and 2010. They had to describe the changes in the pyramid at different age groups, and use their knowledge of development to suggest reasons for the change in the pyramids shape. Sure enough, you can see the trend in the pyramids towards a larger post 50 'baby boom' generation, and a decline in the 25-35 age group; classic Demographic Transition Model in action!

Population pyramid from the ONS

Perhaps the change in age of workers is less to do with a rise in Lord Alan Sugars and more to do with the inevitable ageing of a High Income Country.


Keeping nuclear local

A number of local authorities in Cumbria voted on the issue of long term, deep geological storage of nuclear waste in the region last week. The BBC has a useful piece on the background to the decision, in which the County Council voted no to progressing to the next stage of investigation, but the district council voted yes (the novelty of two tier local authority control). It remains to be seen what will happen next, as the government is now left in a tricky situation with other communities  unwilling to step forward to investigate their suitability for long term storage at this stage.

I used the topic of long term storage in Cumbria with a year 11 group last year as part of the Edexcel Geography A Wasteful World topic. I managed to get hold of a paper version of the public consultation booklet that was sent out to residents in the Eden Valley. You can access similar documents and information from the West Cumbria Waste Safety Partnership website.

I got the class to work in pairs to gather information on what the initial problem was, why long term geological disposal was the only solution, and why Cumbria was the favourite to host the site. I then split the class into half to develop an open discussion based on the proposal that: ' Nuclear waste should be stored long term, underground in West Cumbria'

I also showed them the documentary film 'Into Eternity' that explores the construction of the Onkalo nuclear storage facility in Finland. There is a trailer for the film on YouTube The first of its kind in the world and an indication of could be built under the Lake District.

You could perhaps hold a vote similar to The Guardian's, using an online voting tool.