Effects of IT on employment
Reduction of employment
Car production workers. Many car workers have lost their jobs when car manufacturing companies have introduced the use of robots into factories.
Bank workers. The introduction of online banking has seen a reduction in the need for certain types of worker. Bank cashiers are now no longer needed in the numbers that used to be required. Both the use of ATM machines by many customers and the increase in online banking have led to fewer cashiers being needed.
Shop workers. The use of online shopping has also led to fewer workers being required, so the number of shop assistants has fallen dramatically. In addition, fewer staff are required to organise stock control, due to the introduction of electronic point of sales (EPOS) terminals. These use barcode readers to input product data and are often linked to automated stock control systems.
Office workers.Jobs that used to be done by clerical workers have been replaced by computers; for example, the calculation of payroll, the issuing of invoices and requests for payment and receipts of payment, to name but a few.
The main reason for these changes has been cost, although there have been other factors:
Repetitiveness and accuracy
Robots are used because certain tasks must be performed in the same way and with the same degree of accuracy every time. Many jobs such as car assembly have little need for feedback and so do not require human judgement and reactions, so robots are suitable for that job.
Similarly, there are aspects of shopping and banking which must be performed the same way and with the same degree of accuracy every time.
Time and automation
Some office jobs have been replaced by computers. One such office application is the production of the workers' payroll. Many payroll systems required a great deal of paperwork. The number of hours people worked and their rate of pay used to be written down manually and their wages would be worked out using calculators. The results of the calculations would then be typed out manually. Now, computers are used to carry out the whole process.
In the same way, online services can use many automated services to reduce the amount of time and paperwork required for each transaction.
New employment opportunities
As new ICT systems are introduced and updated, the following professionals are in great demand:
Systems analysts. They analyse existing systems and recommend the design and implementation of new systems.
Website designers. Many new systems require the creation of a website for the organisation concerned, which involves the services of website designers.
Computer programmers. They are needed to write code for the new systems.
Delivery drivers in retail stores
Computer technicians. They are required to install and service the computer hardware.
ICT developments, including the increased use of online services, has increased the amount of flexible working that organisations can offer their workers.
Flexible working is any working pattern that can be decided by the employee and is not the normal 9 to 5 routine. There are different types of flexible working:
Part-time working. This is when people only work a limited number of hours.
Flexible hours. It gives workers some choice about what times of day they work. They can vary them from day to day. They work the same number of hours each week, but they can choose when to do these hours, providing it fits in with other workers' requirements and also the employer's needs.
Job sharing. It is where two people share a job that would normally be done by one person. Each person is paid on a part-time basis but together they do a full time job.
Compressed hours. Involves employees working the same number of hours but over a shorter number of days. It usually involves working approximately 4 days in a week, or 9 days out of 10 in a period of two weeks.
Microprocessor controlled devices in the home
A microprocessor is a tiny cpu built onto a single chip.
Microprocessors are put into electronic devices to control how they function.
These are examples of typical household devices that contain a microprocessor:
Computer system. Your desktop PC or laptop will contain a microprocessor called a CPU (powerful machines will contain more than one)
Washing machines. Contain microprocessors to control things like: water temperature, valves to let water in, valves to let water out.
Alarm systems. The microprocessor inside a burglar alarm is used to detect intruders and they also set the alarm off.
Heating systems. They use microprocessors to control: when the heating is switched on or off, keeping a constant temperature, some can make the temperature, different from room to room.
Intelligent ovens and microwaves. Microprocessors in intelligent ovens can read the barcodes on packaging and then automatically set the temperature and cooking time to the perfect levels.
Intellligent fridges. Can read barcodes on food and determine the expiration date. If the expiration date passed food is automatically moved to the front of the fridge so that you use it first.
Effects of microprocessor-controlled devices on leisure time
Positive effects of microprocessor-controlled devices on leisure time and social interaction
Increased free time. Mobilel phones, Ipads, etc. allow us to work on the move which means we get to enjoy more free time.
Increased leisure time. Microprocessors in household applicances can make sure that the task is completed without you actually being there. Once you have started the applicance you can go off and do whatever you want.
Increased fitness. Some people choose to spend the extra free time that these devices give them to go to the gym.
Increased relaxation. Extra leisure time can be spent watching TV, surfing the net, llistening to music, gaming or other relaxing pastimes.
Increased productivity. For example, a businessperson could email clients while an intelligent oven cooks their dinner to perfection.
Leave home. One could go out for a walk or go shopping, etc. while clothes are being washed by the washing machine, dinner is cooked by the intelligent oven.
Microprocessor-controlled devices that make it easy to interact socially are mobile phones.
Negative effects of microprocessor-controlled devices on leisure time
Laziness. When devices do a lot of our tasks for us it is easy to become lazy. For example, instead of vacuming the floor I could let a robotic vacuum do the job while I go sit and eat ice cream.
Decreased fitness. Because microprocessor-controlled devices do most of the work for us it means that we are not doing as much hard manual work as we used to.
Socially, because we spend lots of time with our mobile phones, we don't actually meet people face to face as much. Playing games online could mean that children don't take up actual sports.
Potential health problems related to the prolonged use of IT equipment
Repetitive strain injury (RSI). Pain in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movements.
The two most common RSI ailments experienced by computer users are:
Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition causing pain in the forearm and wrist.
Cubital tunnel syndrome, a similar condition which affects the elbow. It is sometimes referred to as "cell phone elbow", caused by keeping the elbow bent in order to make and take calls on a mobile phone.
Backache. Caused by bad posture.
Neck pain. Caused by bad positioning of a computer screen or bad lighting.
Eye strain. Symptoms are fatigue, pain in or around the eyes, blurred vision, and ocassional double vision.
Headaches. Staring at a computer screen for long periods of time can cause headaches, another cause is eye strain.
To prevent the above problems, companies and workers must follow health and safety guidance regarding the height, position and distance of monitors and keyboards from operators when working.
If operators are going to be seated for extended periods, they must be provided with good quality seating that supports the back. Seating should be height adjustable, so that monitors and keyboards are correctly positioned and operators do not have to look up or down at the monitor for prolonged periods.