IELTS WRITING – shift work, part time work advantages, blue collar versus white collar and women at work

Shift Work?


Shift work is work that takes place on a schedule outside the traditional 9 am – 5 pm day. It can involve evening or night shifts, early morning shifts, and rotating shifts. Many industries rely heavily on shift work, and millions of people work in jobs that require shift schedules.

What Professions Participate in Shift Work

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Roughly 15% of full-time wage and salary workers in the U.S. work on shifts outside the traditional daytime schedule.

Most shift workers are in service occupations, like protective service (such as police and firefighters), food preparation and serving, healthcare, and transportation.

Why Do People Work Shift Schedules?

When asked, people state many reasons for working on shift schedules. For example:

Shift work is the “nature of the job.”

Shift work allows for better arrangements for family or childcare.

Shift work is the only option available.

Shift work is a personal preference.

Shift work is vital in many industries, and we rely on shift workers to provide important services off-hours.

How Does Shift Work Affect Your Health and Well being?


Unfortunately, shift work can also be very disruptive to a person’s health and wellbeing. In a 2008 National Sleep Foundation poll, only 63% of shift workers (versus 89% of non-shift workers) said their work schedule allows them to get enough sleep.


They were significantly more likely to sleep fewer than 6 hours on workdays, to work more hours per week on average, and to experience drowsy driving at least once a month in the previous year.



The generation of women that hums Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” was supposed to usher in a new era of gender parity. Instead, these women describe a corporate world that sounds a lot like the one their mothers faced: largely inflexible to motherhood, and corner offices filled with men.

Millennials—the generation born from 1980 to 1994—make up the largest share of the workforce, and have forced numerous companies to adjust the way they recruit, hire and manage their workers. But according to a survey of 34,000 workers conducted by McKinsey & Co. and LeanIn.Org, millennial women aren’t finding a brave new world at work.

The survey found that 23% of millennial women believe their gender has prevented them from getting ahead at work, only slightly lower than what older generations of women reported. Still retaining some of the optimism of youth, this generation of women expresses more ambition than older women. But the ambition gap—the difference between the share of men and women saying they want to be a top executive—is nearly as large for millennials, at 14 percentage points, as for older employees, at 17 points.

It doesn’t end at work. Millennial couples at home appear much like their parents, with 36% of millennial and nonmillennial women saying they handle the majority of family responsibilities.

Those dynamics have prompted some young women to forge a different path, unwilling to wait for companies to change, while others are joining with peers to swap workplace tips and terrors.

Millennial women are hardly naive about the barriers they’ve inherited. About 75% of young women think changes are needed to achieve equality in the workplace, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center.

They “have read all the studies and watched all the videos,” says Jessica Bennett, author of “Feminist Fight Club,” a survival guide for women in the modern workplace. “We’re forming groups on our own because we can’t wait for the system to fix itself.”

Overall, women in the McKinsey and Lean In survey said stress and pressure ruin their appetite for top roles. But some argue that for this generation, a C-suite position isn’t the only route to success.

Your time is valuable, so “hack” housework and family duties to find a better work-life balance. Management expert and author Laura Vanderkam offers tips on how to save time and achieve equity with your partner.

While working as a designer and copywriter for New York-based technology startups, 25-year-old Carly Ayres says, she would often encounter “baby bear syndrome”—when, despite being assigned more responsibility, a young employee still isn’t given a proportional raise or promotion. After working and freelancing for more than 20 companies, Ms. Ayres says, she grew exhausted of workplaces where she had to come up “with four arguments for one idea.” When her last contract job ended last December, she transitioned into freelance work, but soon realized she was charging a significantly lower hourly rate than her male peers.

Earlier this month, Ms. Ayres launched a design studio in New York with some colleagues. This way, she says, she can have more say over how and where she works.

It took a number of years for Megan Hellerer, 32, to leave her six-figure job at Google Inc., where she went to work shortly after graduating from Stanford in 2006.

She says she knew for a while that “the way corporate life is set up is not aligned well with how I interact or communicate as a woman,” but she told herself her dissatisfaction was her own fault. “I thought to myself, ‘On paper, your life is perfect. What is wrong with you that you’re not happy?’ ”

Ms. Hellerer started anew last year as a life coach in New York, hoping to share lessons from her experience with other women. Going rogue is a privilege that this generation of women has, she says.

Patty McCord, former chief talent officer at Netflix Inc., says testing out nontraditional employment is a smart move for young women seeking to advance their careers. Millennials say, “‘I’m not going to play this game anymore. It’s too slow and I want more,’” says Ms. McCord. “When women get older,” career overhauls become harder, she says.

Reconfiguring careers


Expectations for women clash with reality when it comes to parenting, too. In a 2015 survey of Harvard M.B.A.s, roughly a third of millennial men said they expected to take an egalitarian approach to parenthood, but only about 11% said they divided child care equally with their partners. What’s more men still outearn women, which means working mothers are more likely to be the ones to reconfigure their careers when a baby arrives.


J.J. El-Far, 31, and her husband, Dan Hirschhorn, 32, say part of the problem is paternity leave. Ms. El-Far, who is on a five-month maternity leave, does about 80% of the child care for their 2-month old son, Henry. She expects more parity once Henry is older, but says Mr. Hirschhorn’s two-week paternity leave has “set a precedent for the rest of the baby’s life.”


“If we truly expect fathers to be equal partners and equal parents, we must start by giving them equal paid time off when a baby is born,” she says.


One mechanism of advancement for women that has stood the test of time is the counsel of other women.


A few months ago, Claire Wasserman, 29, decided to start a professional development organization for women, called Ladies Get Paid, after working in the marketing and advertising industry.


On a balmy evening in late August, her company held its third town hall, where attendees were asked for a $5 donation. The 100 women, most in their 20s and 30s, gathered in a downtown Manhattan office and passed around a microphone.


Several recounted how they quit their jobs—some in the wake of sexual harassment, others after being called “too aggressive” by superiors. Ladies Get Paid also has a Slack group with more than 700 members, and hosts workshops on things such as pay negotiation.


“We all think we can be the boss, that’s not the problem,” says Ms. Wasserman. Millennial women are just “experiencing sexism in small ways, on a day-to-day basis. It corrodes your self esteem, and your confidence.”


After a workshop that focused on pay, one woman negotiated herself from a part-time to full-time position—with a $13,000 signing bonus, according to Ms. Wasserman.


“Women have been coming together for a long time,” says Ms. Bennett. “We don’t have to hide in the ladies room anymore to talk about these issues. Our modern culture is very individualistic, but I certainly think there is always power in numbers.”




Blue collar” and “white collar” are two terms in the English language that evoke very different pictures. The blue collar worker is perceived to make less than the white collar worker. The white collar worker might work behind a desk in the service industry, while the blue collar worker gets his hands dirty doing manual labor or working in a division of manufacturing. Perhaps the white collar worker has a more well-rounded education than the blue collar worker. The distinguishing characteristics between the two types of employees go on, and yet there is no dictionary definition that can offer more succinct language as to what the phrases signify other than to suggest, in imprecise terms, the differences in class.


It may come down to usage and context clues. There is another way to define these two phrases that the white collar worker not only makes more money than the blue collar worker, but he fills a different social class. Yet, to suggest the white collar worker exists in a different social class from the blue collar worker still does not satisfy questions on the quantitative differences of annual income, the number of years of post-secondary schooling each has or the skills each worker possesses.


White Collar Workers Do Not Sweat


The differences in connotation between white collar and blue collar have much more to say about the way English speakers perceive the service industry in comparison to manufacturing and agriculture. The movement of a nation’s employment market toward the service industry and away from agricultural labor jobs signifies growth, advancement and development. If a country’s infrastructure is so developed as to offer its workers safe desk jobs in clerical or managerial capacities that require mental attention rather than physically exhausting jobs of corporal exertion, then the nation has become empowered to remove the burden of physicality from the requirements of earning a wage.


The Value of a Worker’s Time


In its most basic usage, to say that one person is working a white collar job and another is working a blue collar job carries the significance of salary size. The blue collar worker might not earn a salary at all, he might be working for hourly wages, or he may get paid for every item produced or assembled. The blue collar worker might require the protection of a union to maintain the security of hours and future work. Likewise, there may be insecurity about the stability of the blue collar worker’s job, whether it be dependent on a contractual agreement with a third party or temporary in nature.


The white collar worker, on the other hand, might have obtained his job through a more stringent hiring process and, for this reason, is more difficult to fire. If he is not earning a salary, income may be contingent on maintaining a client base, as is true with private practice lawyers and physicians. The position a white collar worker holds may be stable since white collar work carries specific skills.


If the reference to a blue collar job does not point to agricultural work, it might imply another physically exhausting task such as construction. The environment may be outdoors or require interaction with heavy machinery or animals. The blue collar worker may be skilled or unskilled. If skilled, his skills may have been obtained at a trade school rather than through a bachelor’s degree program at a college or university.


The historical basis for the two terms may not have changed radically from their origins. Blue collar workers can get away with dirt on their shirts from working outdoors or in some physical capacity because of the color of the uniform. The blue color worker might have been wearing jeans or overalls. American writer Upton Sinclair is partially responsible for the modern understanding of the term white collar, having using the phrase in conjunction with administrative work.




Full-time work is the default setting in our society, but that doesn’t make it your best option.

Surrounded by examples of successful businesses whose founders worked 80 hour weeks to make it happen, most people never fully explore the possibilities of being a part-timer. What’s stopping you: the money? The status? The fear of failure?

Whatever it is, take a deep breath and keep reading. Once you’ve checked out these 11 reasons, you might decide it’s in your best interest never to get a full-time job. Ever.


  1. You Don’t Need to Work Full Time


Nobody truly needs to work 40+ hours per week. If you could work fewer hours without reducing your income, you’d take that option, right? You don’t need a specific number of hours’ work per week; you need a specific amount of income to live on. And there are ways to hit that target without long hours:

work fewer hours at a higher rate of pay

become your own boss and set your own prices

create semi-passive income streams


  1. You’ll Save Money


Working a full-time job means you barely have time to enjoy the money you earn, yet somehow it still gets spent.

Remember that specific amount of income you need? Given the choice between working full-time or cutting your discretionary spending, you’ll find ways to trim down your expenses! Avoiding full-time work is an effective motivator to get you budget-hacking like a boss. You might save even more money if working part-time or becoming your own boss means you spend less on transport, food, or childcare.


  1. You’ll Be Healthier


If you reduce the stress of your job by choosing something with shorter work hours and greater flexibility, your body will thank you for it. You’ll notice improvements in your immune system, digestion, circulation, and other key signs of physical health compared to an exhausted full-time worker.


  1. You’ll Eat Better


It’s easy to grab a ready-made sandwich or a sweet snack when you’re working, but you often don’t realise how fast all those choices add up to a big pile of junky, pre-processed crap. And if you’re a high-caffeine type who guzzles cola, coffee or tea while you work, you’ll suffer the after-effects right through until after bedtime.

For a part-time worker, the “employee diet” has less of an effect because you have more time to buy and prepare healthy, fresh food.


  1. You’ll Have More Energy


The better general health and diet of a part-time worker means that you’ll have a lot more energy than if you worked full-time. Instead of arriving home weary from a full day’s work, you’ll have more time to rest your body and mind, so that when the next day arrives you’re ready to meet it head-on and get stuff done.


  1. You’ll Learn More


If you’re lucky, a full-time job comes with a few training opportunities. But if you want to learn something that isn’t included in your employer’s list of training courses, then you’ll have to learn it on your own time. Ha! Time to yourself is a precious rarity if you’re a full-time employee.


Stick to part-time jobs or self-employment and you’ll always have time to learn new things that make life even more awesome. Plus your brain will be less frazzled and more receptive to fresh knowledge.


  1. You’ll Get Creative


Along with better learning performance, part-timers and entrepreneurs often report that their creative thinking improved when they quit their full-time jobs.

Granted, this could simply mean that creative people are more likely to follow a part-time career path. It gives you the creative freedom you crave and lets you avoid the burnout that plagues creatives in high-pressure full-time jobs, but it’s also likely that having more time off work gives your brain greater opportunity to make the connections that spark creative insight.


  1. You Can Diversify


There’s no rule that says you have to stick to one job at a time. Instead of working full-time at one thing, why not run two or three different part-time jobs in parallel? You’ll be less likely to get bored or stuck in inflexible ways of thinking.

Having the time to develop diverse projects also protects you from losing everything the way you could if your full-time job disappears in budget cuts and corporate re-shuffling.


  1. You’ll Worry Less


Thinking about work when you’re not working means one of two things: either you really love your job, or it’s getting you down.

Full-time work doesn’t only stress your body; it stresses your mind, too. For example, worrying about work during your time off disturbs your sleep more than almost any other work-related factor. You’re much more likely to fret about work all evening if you’ve done nothing but work all day, so skip the full-time job and you can skip the worry, too.


  1. You’ll Live Longer


This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Less stress, better food, more sleep… of course you’ll live longer. Overwork is a killer, and the longer the hours you work, the more it cuts your life expectancy.


  1. You’ll Be More Productive


It sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true. Spending less time working actually makes you more productive.

This is the “working on vacation” effect: when you’ve got a short amount of time to spend on work (and something fun to look forward to when it’s done) you’ll focus better, work faster and make fewer mistakes.




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