Worker Deskilling Process

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A Worker Deskilling Process is an economic process that introduces labor-saving technology that is operated by semi-skilled workers (into deskilled jobs).



  • (Wikipedia, 2015) ⇒ Retrieved:2015-5-29.
    • Deskilling is the process by which skilled labor within an industry or economy is eliminated by the introduction of technologies operated by semiskilled or unskilled workers. This results in cost savings due to lower investment in human capital, and reduces barriers to entry, weakening the bargaining power of the human capital.[1]

      It is criticized [2] for decreasing quality, demeaning labor (rendering work mechanical, rather than thoughtful and making workers automatons rather than artisans), and undermining community.

  1. Braverman, Harry (1974) Labor and monopoly capital. New York: Monthly Review
  2. Lerner, Sally (1994) "The future of work in North America: Good jobs, bad jobs, beyond jobs". Futures, 26(2):185-196. DOI 10.1016/0016-3287(94)90108-2. [1]


  • (Beaudry et al., 2013) ⇒ Paul Beaudry, David A. Green, and Benjamin M. Sand. (2013). “The Great Reversal in the Demand for Skill and Cognitive Tasks." National Bureau of Economic Research, No. w18901.
    • ABSTRACT: What explains the current low rate of employment in the US? While there has been substantial debate over this question in recent years, we believe that considerable added insight can be derived by focusing on changes in the labor market at the turn of the century. In particular, we argue that in about the year 2000, the demand for skill (or, more specifically, for cognitive tasks often associated with high educational skill) underwent a reversal. Many researchers have documented a strong, ongoing increase in the demand for skills in the decades leading up to 2000. In this paper, we document a decline in that demand in the years since 2000, even as the supply of high education workers continues to grow. We go on to show that, in response to this demand reversal, high-skilled workers have moved down the occupational ladder and have begun to perform jobs traditionally performed by lower-skilled workers. This de-skilling process, in turn, results in high-skilled workers pushing low-skilled workers even further down the occupational ladder and, to some degree, out of the labor force all together. In order to understand these patterns, we offer a simple extension to the standard skill biased technical change model that views cognitive tasks as a stock rather than a flow. We show how such a model can explain the trends in the data that we present, and offers a novel interpretation of the current employment situation in the US.