Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Effect on Unemployment

The Effect on Unemployment

The introduction of information technology is affecting the jobs of many people. Automation and the introduction of computers are part of a change in business and industry. This change means that people's jobs are being replaced by computers and computer technology.

FACTS

1 Unemployment and production figures

In the United Kingdom over 8 years (1979 to 1986):

(a) The output from manufacturing industry has dropped, but only slightly. The economy as a whole has grown slightly. In fact both these figures fell sharply to 1981 and since then have risen steadily (see Fig. 2).

(b) Unemployment has risen dramatically in this time by about 2 or 3 million (depending on how the numbers are measured). The number of unemployed as a percentage of the whole work force has risen from about 5 per cent to about 13 per cent.

(c) The average number of hours worked by each person who has a job has hardly changed. In fact when overtime is considered it has risen slightly.

From these figures we can see that gross domestic product is rising more than manufacturing production. The amount produced by the country has not changed a great deal although there are far fewer people employed. In other words,

L Less manpower is being used to do about the same amount of work.

2 There has been a move away from manufacturing industry towards other work.

2 Information technology can result in job losses

Example

1 Using a word processor a typist can work more quickly than using a typewriter. For a secretary or a typist working alone this has usually resulted in more work being done and of better quality. It has, however, led to job losses from typing pools.

2 Many workplaces, manned at present, can be fully automated. e.g.

(a) Telephone exchanges.

(b) Waterworks, many of which now only need to be checked occasionally.

3 New computerized printing methods are making the old typesetting methods obsolete. This has caused great problems in the newspaper industry. New cheap 'desk-top publishing' systems threaten to produce more changes.

3 New jobs are created within the information industry Examples

1 All the new equipment has to be designed and manufactured. These new industries need designers, production workers, managers, sales and maintenance staff, etc.

2 Someone has to produce all the computer programs. There has been a growth in the software industry.

3 Firms need advice on new systems. This has meant an increase in systems consultants.

4 The new equipment needs staff to run it.

ARGUMENTS

In favour of the technology

1 Other countries are introducing new technology. If we do not compete with them we will have even greater unemployment. Computers can be used to increase productivity, so that the same number of people are needed, but more work is done.

2 As more and more work is done by machines there will be more leisure time for all of us. Society's attitude to being unemployed will change. People without work will no longer be ashamed of it-or short of money.

The Effect on Unemployment Fig 2 The changes in the economy, manufacturing output and unemployment 1979-86

3 The introduction of computers gets rid of all the boring jobs and produces new and more interesting ones. People are released from repetitive tasks and so their work can become more creative. Someone has to design and make all the new devices and program the computers.

Against the technology

1 The economies of Britain and other countries are only growing very slowly. In this situation if one firm uses new technology to produce more, then someone somewhere else is put out of work.

2 There has not been any sign of the 'Age of Leisure' yet. Those with jobs work just as long, and the unemployed have so little money and are so worried by their situation that they cannot enjoy the extra time they have.

3 (a) The interesting jobs are all being created for skilled and highly qualified people. Those who previously did the boring jobs either have lost their job or it is less rewarding than before.

(b) Even if the introduction of new equipment does create new and interesting jobs, these cannot be done by the people whose jobs are replaced.