What is the workforce?

What Does Work force Mean

We explain what the workforce is and how this concept arises. Difference between work and labor force. Examples.

Marx asserts that the worker sells his labor power to the capitalist, not his labor.

What is the workforce?

The workforce is the mental and physical capacity of any human being to carry out a certain task . It is a concept coined by Karl Marx in his doctrine , developed in his work Capital , first published in 1867.

Marx argued in his labor theory of value that the value of a good or service is determined by the amount of work or effort necessary to produce it, and not by the utility that this good can offer to its consumer or owner. In this way, the special goods whose elaboration is particularly difficult, will have much more value than the others.

Hence, the value of labor power in a given society will be the sum of the value (that is, the work necessary to produce them) of the goods that make up the “basic” (average) consumption basket of the working or working class. .

The labor force would thus form part, together with the raw material and the tools ( means of production ), of the productive processes of society , that is, of those in which it provides itself with goods and services. what do you need. In exchange for this productive capacity, the working class is rewarded with a salary , which constitutes the core of the exploitation of man by man .

See also: Marxism

Elements of the workforce

Since the work force is the human capacity to carry out a job, the instruments of this force will be the necessary tools to carry it out, the specialized knowledge (technical or procedural), and the means of production (the factory, the machinery, etc.).

However, for the labor force to exist, it must be free from the means of production and its remuneration must be the only means of sustenance; This means that the labor force of a nation at any given time will be the number of workers willing to work and in need of employment to meet the demands of their family .

Skilled workforce

The skilled workforce has the knowledge to carry out immediate work.

The labor force of a society is divided into two: the qualified and the unskilled, according to the level of experience and education that the workers possess.

  • The unskilled labor force. It is one that has not received any type of training (technical or procedural), that is, they do not have the knowledge yet to perform a job. This means that their contract must provide them with such knowledge.
  • The skilled workforce. It is, on the other hand, the one that has the experience or the knowledge to carry out an immediate task and therefore aspires to better salaries.

Differences between work and workforce

The workforce and the work done are two different things. The latter is the concrete aspect, the materialization, of the potential work that the workforce contemplates. That is to say, it is the consequence of applying the work force to a task .

This distinction is key, according to Marx and Engels, to understand in political economy concepts such as surplus value and profit , key in the mechanism of the exploitation of the working class. On the other hand, the economists of the time preferred to think of work from the cost of training the worker himself, what they called the cost of production of labor power.

With this distinction, Marx affirms that the worker sells his labor power to the capitalist , not his labor, thus distinguishing the process of labor from the process of valorization. The key in this is that in a working day a worker does more work in the production of the merchandise than it costs to reproduce the value of his labor power.

Put more easily: a worker produces for the capitalist more than he and his family need to subsist. That surplus is the surplus value, the profit of the factory owner, for which he will not pay the worker (he will pay him only for his labor power).

Workforce Examples

An example to understand this concept is the following. Suppose a textile worker seeks employment, selling his labor power . A capitalist hires him to produce clothing that costs $ 100 to produce, in exchange for a wage of $ 50.

In this scenario, the capitalist is not paying him for the cost of production of each garment, but for his labor force, estimated at half. However, for every garment that the textile worker produces and the capitalist sells, he will get the cost of the worker's wage and an additional 50% surplus value.

Hence, the labor force can also be understood as a commodity that the worker sells to the owner of the textile factory.

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