Software engineers. Fitness trainers. Physical therapists. They’re all jobs that are popular these days. But do you think they’ll still be around in 20 years? What about 30 or 40 years? Over time, jobs come and go; but one profession that seemed to be on the brink of extinction is now making a comeback.
The job market has changed radically over the past 100 years or so. In the late 19th century, there were lamplighters – people who went around the streets literally lighting the gas lamps, but then electricity came in and they were no longer needed. Switchboard operators were popular up until the 1980s, but are now not so common. During World War II, telegraph operators on ships were extremely important. They used Morse code to send and receive messages. But the telecommunications revolution has changed all that. Newspaper typesetters once played a key role in newspaper production. They spent hours placing individual letters and words in printing presses in order to create newspaper pages. Now, of course, computers do all the work.
For many years, chimney sweeps were popular. During the days of coal fires in people’s homes, thousands of sweeps were needed to clean the chimneys. At this time, the situation was appalling. Poor, homeless children and orphans were often sold to sweeps, and were forced up the narrow chimneys. As a result, adult sweeps were often depicted as villains in Victorian literature. However, towards the end of the 19th century, the situation improved, until the industry became fully regulated and children were no longer employed. Sweeps appeared in a more positive light in the 1964 film Mary Poppins, which starred Dick van Dyke as a cheery old sweep (albeit with an appalling Cockney accent).
Over time, more and more houses have switched over to gas or electricity. And for a while it seemed as if the days of chimney sweeps were numbered. But then came the credit crunch and the worldwide recession, and, as a result, more and more people have started using coal fires as a way of heating their homes cheaply. And this has led to a demand for chimney sweeps. “It’s hard, physical work,” explained one sweep. “But when you’re up there on the roof among all the chimney pots there’s nothing like it. I don't mind getting dirty. It’s a fascinating job.”
So, if you’re thinking of switching to coal-fired heating, you’d better find a sweep!
Language Focus: Expressions with make
Look at this extract from the article on this page, “...is now making a comeback...” The writer has used an expression with “make” (“make a comeback”). Complete these sentences with the words from below.
friends, bell, call, impressions
1. You did well at that meeting. You really made an ￼___________.
2. We had an argument last night, but we made up shortly after, and now we’re ___________￼ again.
3. Can I borrow your mobile phone, please? I need to make a phone ___________.
4. The bedroom’s a mess and you haven't made the ___________
English Exercise: Reading Comprehension
Read the article again. What does the writer say about the following?