Analysis of the task content of significant manufacturing jobs
The task content of occupations is continuously changing, reflecting the introduction of new technologies in production and of new forms of work organisation. Such processes of change in the task content of occupations poses important challenges for societies: many workers whose skills have become obsolete may find it difficult to update them, and face unemployment or downward mobility as a result; education systems themselves may struggle to keep up with the changing requirements of the economy, while existing employment regulations and industrial relations systems may be less effective or adapted to the new working environment and conditions. For these reasons, it is critical to monitor and understand the changes in the task content of occupations. While a quantitative approach is useful to provide broad overviews of the task content of occupations across Europe, the standardised collection of data removes most contextual information, which is necessary to understand the process of change in the task content of occupations, its drivers and implications. A way to try to cover at least some of the gaps in the existing quantitative information is to complement it with an alternative qualitative approach.
This project aims at providing a better understanding of the changes in the nature of key manufacturing occupations in Europe in recent years, as a result of factors such as technology, market changes, policy and regulation, and their implications on employment, tasks and skills, job quality and industrial relations. The study provides a qualitative perspective on recent changes in the content and nature of five manufacturing occupations in Europe: meat processing workers, hand-packers, car assemblers, chemical plant machine operators and inspection engineers. It also explores differences across four countries (Sweden, Germany, Italy and the UK) covering different European regions and tries to identify interaction between the task content of occupations and contextual aspects, such as industrial relations systems and market structures.
The main outputs are five comparative reports, one for each manufacturing occupation. Each report is based on four case studies, one per country. The 20 case studies are based on extensive desk research and in-depth interviews with workers, line managers, trade associations and union's representatives. As a final output from the project, an overview report highlights the main findings from the above material.
Overview report and case studies: New tasks in old jobs: Drivers of change and implications for job quality