chapter  6
36 Pages

Effects on Clerical and Secretarial Employees

ByRichard J. Long

Although most observers predict a decreased demand for secretarial/clerical workers as a result of new office technology, particularly as the second phase of the microelectronic revolution occurs, it is becoming increasingly apparent that these effects will not be as immediate or as severe as the pessimists fear. In the industries which were the first to adopt the new technology, such as insurance, the general trend towards the reduction of low-skilled clerical jobs has been apparent for some time. In seeking evidence on the labour process' theory, J. Webster was surprised to find no evidence that deskilling had been caused by the introduction of word processing in a small sample of British firms. Instead, she found that secretarial jobs were relatively unaffected, in terms of task variety and the like, and that routine typing jobs were made no worse. A large number of the studies investigating the impact of office technology on clerical employees have been conducted in the insurance industry.