Tuesday, March 6, 2007

For many years now the debates around working from home in the UK have been hampered by an
almost complete lack of reliable figures. The picture persists of homeworking as
underpaid manual work largely carried out by underpaid women with few
qualifications. But the figures from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show this to
be a misleading impression for the majority of home workers.

Essentially it shows that
underlying the rapid
recent growth of homeworking are two trends:

  • the persistence of traditional forms of
    (often) exploitative manual work carried
    out primarily in the home

  • the emergence
    of other forms of non-manual
    work, generally well-paid, making considerable
    use of ICT and only partially
    carried out at home.

Employers generally hire high school
graduates who meet companyrequirements for keyboarding speed; for many people, a
job as a data entry andinformation processing worker is their first job after
graduating from highschool.

Although overall employment is projected to
decline, the need to replaceworkers who leave this large occupation each year
can produce many jobopenings.

Job prospects should be best for those with
expertise in appropriatecomputer software applications.

Although data
entry and information processing workers are affected byproductivity gains
stemming from organizational restructuring and theimplementation of new
technologies, projected growth differs among theseworkers.
Employment of word
processors and typists is expected to declinebecause of the proliferation of
personal computers, which allows other workersto perform duties formerly
assigned to word processors and typists.

Mostprofessionals and managers,
for example, now use desktop personal computers todo their own word processing.
However, because technologies affecting data entrykeyers tend to be costlier to
implement, employment of these workers willdecline less than word processors and

Employment growth of data entry keyers will be dampened by
productivity gainsas various data-capturing technologies, such as barcode
scanners, voicerecognition technologies, and sophisticated character recognition
readers,become more prevalent.

The technologies can be applied to a
variety of businesstransactions, such as inventory tracking, invoicing, and
placing orders.Moreover, as telecommunications technology improves, many
organizations willincreasingly take advantage of computer networks that allow
data to betransmitted electronically. The networks permit more data to be
enteredautomatically into computers, reducing the demand for data entry

In addition to being affected by technology, employment of data
entry andinformation processing workers will be adversely affected by businesses
that areincreasingly contracting out their work. Many organizations have reduced
or eveneliminated permanent in-house staff—for example, in favor of
temporaryemployment and staffing services firms. Some large data entry and
informationprocessing firms increasingly employ workers in nations with
relatively lowerwages.