Using new job requirements data for Britain I show that there has been a rise in various forms of communication tasks: influencing and literacy tasks have grown especially fast, as have self-planning tasks. External communication tasks, and numerical tasks have also become more important, but physical tasks have largely remained unchanged. Although the classification of tasks as programmable or otherwise is found to be problematic, computer use accounts for much of the changed use of generic skills. Going beyond the technology, I investigate whether organisational changes requiring greater employee involvement explain some of the new skill requirements. Using either industry or occupation panel analyses, I find that employee involvement raises the sorts of generic skills that human resource management models predict, in particular three categories of communication skills and self-planning skills. These effects are found to be independent of the effect of computers on generic skills.
communication skill literacy numeracy computers autonomy