Next Generation Networks: Technological Change, Employment and Skills

By Owen Darbishire.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The introduction of Next Generation Networks (NGNs) will transform the telecommunications industry by replacing PSTN networks with entirely IP (Internet Protocol) based technology allowing voice, video and data to be provided over a single connection. By doing so, it will continue the process of radical change within the industry which began twenty years ago with the emergence of deregulation and digitalisation. The employment consequences have been dramatic within the historic, incumbent providers: employment has declined by over 60 percent in many companies, skill requirements have changed, and customer service centres have developed.

The introduction of NGNs has the potential to have even more dramatic effects on employment and skills of all workers within the telecommunications industry. While employment is certain to decline substantially within the core network providers, new employment opportunities will emerge elsewhere. However, an analysis of the changing skill content of new jobs suggests fundamental change for both technicians and potentially within customer service centres depending on the evolution of corporate strategies. The research reported here is based on extensive primary field work within the telecommunications industry in Britain rather than being based on assumptions or theoretical models about the consequences of new technology for work and skills. The implications are of fundamental concern for societies because they impact the distribution of skills within and between countries, therefore also impacting the future distribution of income.

Keywords: Telecommunications, Employment, Skills, Labor Relations, Strategy

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 2, Issue 7, pp.49-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.072MB).

Dr Owen Darbishire

Lecturer and Fellow, Said Business School, Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire, UK

Owen Darbishire is Rhodes Lecturer in Management at the Saïd Business School, Oxford University and a Fellow of Pembroke College. His expertise lies in work and employment relations, comparative industrial relations and labour markets. His research has focused on the transformation and reorganisation of work in companies responding to new technology and the effects of deregulation and competition. He has a particular interest in the telecommunications industry. He is the co-author (with Harry Katz) of Converging Divergences: Worldwide Changes in Employment Systems (Cornell University Press) which examines changes underway in seven countries and in particular the extent to which there is growing variation in employment and work practices within and across countries. His current research continues to explore the transformation of the telecommunications industry and implications for work, employment and industrial relations. Of particular interest are the consequences of new technologies (including Next Generation Networks), together with changes in organisational structures (including the boundary of the firm) and competitive strategies on employment and skills.

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