Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Work Organization and Training

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Work Organization and Training

Article excerpt

Paul Osterman, reporting in the April 1995 Industrial Relations, tackles the question of whether firms that utilize high-performance workplace practices provide more training to their employees than other firms. Osterman first provides an interesting discussion of the debate on skill, performance, and training, beginning with deskilling theories in the 1970's and 1980's, through the current literature that suggests that technology can be used in different ways and with different impacts on skill. The focus now is directed toward the pace of upskilling and the circumstances under which it occurs. The link between skill and training is critical for high-performance work, because increased training is usually necessary to reap any productivity gains.

Osterman surveyed 875 establishments to assess the relationship between skill, training, and high-performance workplace systems. His survey focuses on an establishment's "core" employees, defined as the largest group of nonsupervisory, nonmanagement workers at the location. He finds a strong trend in upskilling for professional/technical employees, and a less pronounced, but upward trend in complex work for blue-collar workers. For professional/technical workers, the change in skill is due to increased computer usage, while for blue-collar workers, the change is behavioral, such as increased interpersonal and cognitive skills. …

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