Technology and Employment
As mentioned already, the technology employment debase is an old one, and while there are some new features to the current debate, it is nevertheless useful to put the current debate in a broader historical perspective. The latter highlights, at least in my view, also how analytically restrictive traditional 'general equilibrium', incremental approaches to technology are with respect to their likely growth and employment impact. Like many others, I would argue that the present-day debate surrounding
the emerging information society signals the fact that the widespread diffusion of new information and communication technologies is ushering society into an entirely new era or 'post-industrial' society. The latter, as argued below, should be the starting point for any understanding of the nature of the structural transformation the information society is likely to bring about in our economies. ICTs have a fundamentally different impact on the traditional industrial and industrially dependent service sectors (transport, trade and distribution of material goods) than on 'pure' service activities. This implies, as argued in the third section of this chapter, a continuous shift in value added away from material production and handling toward the immaterial content, as argued in a fourth section. The implications for employment growth and displacement are fundamental. As I argue in the final section, they appear to lay behind many of the growing concerns in Europe about the employment implications of the emerging information society.