Job Quality Indicators » Computers At Work

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Impact of Technology on Jobs

To what extent have computers or automated technologies affected Canadian jobs during the past few years? This issue is of particular importance given the rapid pace of technological change that characterizes many Canadian workplaces.


PCs Have Had A Big Impact On People's Jobs

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

Between 1995 and 2000, computer technologies have had a significant perceived impact on the nature of work for many Canadians. As the chart shows, 38 percent of employed Canadians reported in 2000 that new technology has ‘greatly’ affected their job in the past five years, and an additional 21 percent reported that their jobs had been ‘somewhat’ affected. In other words, three in five employed Canadians say that technological advances have had an impact on their job. Men and women have been affected equally.


By Education and Income

Technology Has Had Biggest Perceived Effect on Jobs Held By University Graduates & Those Earning High Income   

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

As the chart shows, university graduates are more than twice as likely as employees with high school education or less to perceive their job as having been 'greatly' affected by new technologies (58 versus 28 percent). Moreover, university graduates are by far the least likely to report that computers and technological change had little, if any, effect on their job during the previous five years, with only one in five indicating this to be the case. Similarly, the higher one's personal income, the more likely one was to report that advances in technology had 'greatly' affected one's work. For instance, those earning over $60,000 per year were almost three times as likely as those who earned less than $20,000 to say that their job had been greatly affected by computer technology (61 versus 22 percent). Conversely, those in lower income groups were significantly more likely to indicate that technology had had little, if any, perceived effect on their job.

This suggests that there exists uneven access or use of information communication technologies in Canada, a development frequently dubbed the 'digital divide.' Indeed, as our indicator on Computer Use indicated, those with less education and/or lower incomes are significantly less likely to make regular use of a computer at work. In other words, computer use and its consequent effect on jobs is most closely associated with workers who are more highly educated and/or who earn higher incomes.


By Industry and Occupation

Technological Change Has Had The Biggest Effect on Professionals

Source: Statistics Canada General Social Survey (2000).

The perceived impact of computer-based technological change on jobs is highest among professionals, managers, clerical and technical workers. About half or more of these employees reported that their job had been 'greatly' affected by new technologies during the previous five-year period. Conversely, about one in four employees in sales/service and blue-collar jobs said that new technologies had greatly affected their job.

The pattern by industry is similar. The perceived impact of technology on jobs has been most pronounced in professional and financial services, public administration, and education/information services, and weakest in manual-labour jobs such as construction and agriculture.

Additional Charts and Information