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Computers and the changing skill-intensity of jobs

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  • Francis Green
  • Alan Felstead
  • Duncan Gallie

Abstract

This paper investigates the impact of computer usage at work and other job features on the changing skills required of workers. It compare skills utilization in Britain at three data points: 1986, 1992 and 1997, using proxies for the level of skills actually used in jobs. This study questions the validity of investigating the facts about, and the sources of, rising skills by using just educational attainment or occupational grouping data. This paper finds that: • Job skills have increased, more quickly for women than for men; these increases are more extensive than those captured by changes in the occupational class structure. • The spread of computer usage is very strongly associated with the process of upskilling, and accounts in part for narrowing of the gender skills gap; expanded use of quality circles is also linked to upskilling. • Evidence for any direct role of trade in inducing skills increases is weak. • Using the qualification held or occupation as a skills measure can lead to erroneous conclusions as to the origin of skills changes.

Suggested Citation

  • Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie, 2003. "Computers and the changing skill-intensity of jobs," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(14), pages 1561-1576.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:applec:v:35:y:2003:i:14:p:1561-1576
    DOI: 10.1081/0003684032000085986
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Haskel, Jonathan & Heden, Ylva, 1999. "Computers and the Demand for Skilled Labour: Industry- and Establishment-Level Panel Evidence for the UK," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages 68-79, March.
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    5. Gallie, Duncan & White, Michael & Cheng, Yuan & Tomlinson, Mark, 1998. "Restructuring the Employment Relationship," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198294412.
    6. Francis Green, 1998. "The Value of Skills," Studies in Economics 9819, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    7. Bruce Weinberg, 1998. "Computer Use and the Demand for Women Workers," Working Papers 98-06, Ohio State University, Department of Economics.
    8. Eli Berman & John Bound & Zvi Griliches, 1994. "Changes in the Demand for Skilled Labor within U. S. Manufacturing: Evidence from the Annual Survey of Manufactures," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 367-397.
    9. Stephen Machin & John Van Reenen, 1998. "Technology and Changes in Skill Structure: Evidence from Seven OECD Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(4), pages 1215-1244.
    10. E Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & H van Ophern, 1998. "Explaining International Differences in Male Wage Inequality by differences in Demand and Supply of Skill," CEP Discussion Papers dp0392, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    11. Blau, Francine D & Kahn, Lawrence M, 1996. "International Differences in Male Wage Inequality: Institutions versus Market Forces," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(4), pages 791-836, August.
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    13. Machin, Steve, 1994. "Changes in the Relative Demand for Skills in the UK Labour Market," CEPR Discussion Papers 952, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    14. Entorf, Horst & Kramarz, Francis, 1997. "Does unmeasured ability explain the higher wages of new technology workers?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 41(8), pages 1489-1509, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Francis Green & Alan Felstead & Duncan Gallie & Golo Henseke, 2016. "Skills and work organisation in Britain: a quarter century of change
      [Fertigkeiten, Fertigkeitsanforderungen und Arbeitsorganisation in Grossbritannien: Trends über das letzten Vierteljahrhundert]
      ," Journal for Labour Market Research, Springer;Institute for Employment Research/ Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB), vol. 49(2), pages 121-132, October.
    2. Francis Green & Donna James, 2001. "Do Male Bosses Underestimate their Female Subordinates' Skills? A Comparison of Employees' and Line Managers' Perceptions of Job Skills," Studies in Economics 0107, School of Economics, University of Kent.
    3. Aleksandra Parteka, 2012. "Skilled-Unskilled Wage Gap Versus Evolving Trade And Labour Market Structures in the EU," Working Papers 1204, Instytut Rozwoju, Institute for Development.
    4. Roberto Antonietti & Massimo Loi, 2014. "The demand for foreign languages in Italian manufacturing," Working Papers 57, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
    5. Sarbani Banerjee & Rama Parai & Amar Parai, 2007. "Computer use and wage differentials: US and foreign born male and female workers," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(6), pages 409-413.
    6. Daria Ciriaci & Alessandro Muscio, 2011. "University choice, research quality and graduates' employability: Evidence from Italian national survey data," Working Papers 48, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
    7. Thomas Brenner & Christian Cordes, 2004. "The autocatalytic character of the growth of production knowledge: What role does human labor play?," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2004-12, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.

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