Conclusions and Implications

The characteristics of the workforce and other features of the external environment reviewed here are changing in ways that will continue to affect the context, content, and outcomes of work. Some of these changes are readily tractable, such as changing demographic patterns. Others, such as changes in markets and technologies, are less easily measured or observed. However, in doing their work, those who design work structures and occupational analysis systems need a solid understanding of what is known and what existing research suggests, but cannot at this point document conclusively, about the effects of these changes. The evidence presented suggests the following conclusions:

    1.  

    Increased competition in product and financial markets will continue to exert pressures to hold down compensation costs, increase uncertainty over job stability, and call for emphasis on quality, innovation, and flexibility in work processes and outcomes.

    2.  

    Changing technologies will continue to alter skills and eliminate and create jobs at a rapid rate. Although skill requirements for some jobs may be reduced, the net effects of changing technologies are more likely to raise skill requirements and change them in ways that give greater emphasis to cognitive, communications, and interactive skills—points that are documented in more detail in Chapter 4.

    3.  

    Demographic changes will increase the diversity of individuals and groups across and particularly within occupations and organizations. Much more research is needed to understand the full implications of increased diversity, although the evidence available to date suggests that it will alter many of the social processes (communications, conflict, cohesion, etc.) that affect work outcomes. Changing workforce demographics will also alter occupational structures by increasing demand for goods and services that in the past were more often provided by family members who were not part of the paid workforce. Thus, managing diversity and addressing the consequences of more household hours being devoted to paid work will be increasingly



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