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Source: Cambridge                                                              Level: Intermediate & Advanced

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About Topic 1

The Work and careers topic includes issues of opportunities and problems at work, ways of motivating and rewarding workers, the work/life balance, changes in patterns of jobs and work (for example, the growth in working from home), career choices and training, and occasionally the relationship between government and businesses or industries.

You are not expected to know any vocabulary connected to specialised areas of finance, marketing and so on.

Topic 1 Example Task

Some employers offer their employees subsidised membership of gyms and sports clubs, believing that this will make their staff healthier and thus more effective at work. Other employers see no benefit in doing so.

Consider the arguments from both aspects of this possible debate, and reach a conclusion.


Band 9 model essay

Employers are always seeking ways to enhance their employees’ productivity, and subsidising healthy pursuits may be one way of achieving this. There are arguments on both sides, however, which we will discuss here.

On the one hand, it might be said that if workers are fitter and less stressed, their working time will be more efficient, leading to higher levels of output and service. Furthermore, the work/life balance of the staff will hopefully be improved, because their leisure time will be more fulfilling. This may even be more motivating than pay increments, perks, or financial rewards such as bonuses or incentives which may be hard to attain. Finally, feeling healthier may lead to better job satisfaction which is in itself a motivating factor.

Conversely, the problem with such leisure-based subsidies is that their efficacy is virtually impossible to quantify. For example, with target-related payments, employers can at least see whether the objectives are reached or not. It might also be said that, if this budget was spent on (for instance) on the job training or day release programmes, the employees would achieve better career progression and have better job prospects. These matters are all easier to measure, especially in performance reviews and appraisals, and may even help to reduce the risk of redundancy if the company restructures, downsizes or outsources its workforce.

Overall, it seems that, while health-related subsidies are superficially attractive, the lack of measurability is a substantial drawback. Spending funds on ongoing training would appear to be a better use of company or Human Resources budgets.

(259 words)




Productivity (năng suất) = the ability of people to produce useful results at work.


To subsidise (trợ cấp) = to pay part of the cost of something, usually in order to help people.


Output (sản lượng) = the amount of work or goods produced.

E.g.      In Europe, industrial output has decreased, maybe because of competition from producers in other continents.


Work and life balance (cân bằng giữa công việc và cuộc sống)= the ability to work hard but also enjoy a good quality family and social life.

E.g.      People are working long hours these days, and so their work/life balance is affected, leading to stress.


To motivate people = to give them positive reasons for working hard (thúc đẩy…)

E.g.      If employees are given regular feedback, they will probably be well motivated and committed.


Pay increments (tiền lãi) = pay rises/increases

E.g.      In my country, pay increments have been very low because of the financial crisis.



Perks (phần thưởng không phải tiền)= reward from an employer which are not financial (eg free lunches, a car etc)

E.g.      Personally, I’d like to work for a company that gives lots of perks, because I would find this very enjoyable.


Financial rewards (phần thưởng về tiền) = any form of money payment (salary, commission, pension etc)

E.g.      Being a primary teacher may be satisfying, but the financial rewards are not high.


Bonuses (tiền thưởng) = money given in addition to salary, usually in return for achieving targets

E.g.      Apparently some investment bankers can earn millions of dollars in bonuses.


Incentives (sự khuyến khích) = any reward that makes people work harder

E.g.      Some employers offer vacations or parties as incentives if the team hits its sales targets.


Job satisfaction (sự hài lòng về công việc)= enjoyment of a job for non-financial reasons

E.g.      I get a lot of job satisfaction from my work at the wildlife centre, although the financial rewards are quite low.


Target-related (mục tiêu liên quan) = dependent on hitting a target

E.g.      My boss once offered me a target-related bonus, but it was almost impossible to achieve!


On the job training (huấn luyện trong công việc)= training while working, not by leaving work to go to college

E.g.      My sister has found that the on the job training she gets at her bank is very useful, and she has progressed well because of this.



Ongoing training (huấn luyện trong khi làm việc)= training throughout your time in a job, not just at the start

E.g.      I enjoyed my work at the airline at first, but I soon found that there was no ongoing training and my skills weren’t really developed.


Day release programmes (chương trình nghỉ phép) = programmes of training or education when employees can spend entire days out of work

E.g.      I feel that employers should be much more flexible regarding training, for example by subsidising day release programmes or job exchanges with other companies.


Career progression (sự thăng tiến trong công việc) = the ability to advance your career

E.g.      The problem with being a freelance photographer is that there’s no real career progression, unless you become very famous.


Job prospects (triển vọng công việc) = the possibility of promotion or higher level work in future

E.g.      I remember an interview when the employer told me there were excellent job prospects in their firm for young people. In reality, this was not really true.


To measure (đánh giá)= to assess the dimensions of something

E.g.      Job satisfaction may be important, but can we really measure it?


Superficial (thiển cận) = not addressing deep or important issues

E.g.      I’m not a big fan of traditional music. I find the lyrics rather old-fashioned and superficial for modern listeners.


Performance reviews/appraisals (đánh giá thành tích)= meeting at which an employer gives feedback to a worker on their work over a fixed period.)

E.g.      I remember being worried about my job at first, but at my six month appraisal my manager told me she was pleased with my efforts.


Redundancy (sự dư thừa) = a situation where a worker loses their job because of changes in the company (not because of personal mistakes) (verb = to make someone redundant)

E.g.      In my home town, the textile factories have closed and many people have been made redundant.


To restructure (tái cấu trúc)= to change the organisation of a company, usually in order to make it more

effective or to save money.

E.g.      We used to have a large training department in my office, but in our recent restructure it was eliminated and the staff were made redundant.


To downsize (cắt giảm)= to make an organisation smaller and employ fewer people

E.g.      My father’s college used to employ almost one thousand people, but then it downsized and now has less than five hundred.


To outsource (thuê ngoài)= to stop doing work inside the company and send it to other companies or other countries, usually to save money

E.g.      Many American companies have outsourced their IT operations to Asian countries, where productivity is similar and salaries are lower.


The workforce (lực lượng lao động) = the total number of people working in an organisation, company or country

E.g.      The workforce in Northern Europe is skilled, but it’s also inflexible and much older than in other parts of the world.


Human Resources (or HR= the department in a company which manages recruitment, employment and training

E.g.      When I graduate, I plan to work in the Human Resources area of the oil industry, possibly in the Middle East.