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This paper looks into the effects that are brought about due to the introduction of technology on the workforce in the textile industry. The hypothesis that is most common in the literature on this kind of topic is that technological change embodied in technology is not neutral with respect to workforce's skills but that there is complementarily between skills and technology.
The reasons for the introduction of the new technology vary from one firm to the other. The new systems of production in a firm are brought up by the management when responding to the market conditions change. Major technological changes induce reasonable changes in organization process and the success of the new technology depends on the extent at which the workforce will be willing to adapt the technological and the organizational alterations.
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Technology was introduced to unify several tasks in one occupation, due to the reduction of the processing periods, or to improve the quality of products which then lowers the period that is required for checking the phases. Furthermore, technology was introduced to allow few skilled people to do the job that previously needed many unskilled and semi-skilled workers. In addition to that, the methods of production are labor intensive, and restrict the market for the product; hence technology was introduced even though it happens to have negative impacts on employment in the long run. Technology was also introduced as it tolerates few or at times no errors and hence lacks the inborn human flexibility in the production systems. Any unit of manufacturing employs four M's that are men, material, machine and money of course. To get the success of an organization, the managers have to synchronize all these factors and develop synergies within and out of the operations of the organization. Technology was also introduced to give support in the enhancement of the supply chain management due to increased completion.
The technological progress was introduced in three phases, craftsmanship, the mechanization phase and the automation stage. It needed end-to-end skill where the craftsman was involved in activities from pitching to deliverance to customers. Mechanization phase was characterized by the application of principles of scientific management. There was breakdown of tasks to specialized and simpler ones, for large scale production of standardized goods. It also introduced a new portfolio of occupations like engineering to design and produce mass production machinery, the machine builders and tool makers' broad skills in machine operators. The automation stage carried many mechanization features and quantitatively altered the way workers undertook their jobs. The worker was no longer involved in the production process directly but monitoring and maintaining of production machines and assisted in trouble shooting.
There are many instances that improvements in technology might reduce labor needed. But at the same time, due to increased demand as a result of lower cost of technological products: it led to the rise in overall demand of labor in textile industry, though the increase is not uniform in all sectors of production. It has been studied and found that most of these increase in labor demand happens during the initial stages of technology introduction, but over the decades that follows, show a reducing trend in the textile manufacturing sector employment.. There has been a shift in the work profile and occupation of the workers as the consequence of technology. There has been an increase in employment due to the emerging volume of employment in hitherto new field like system analysts among others, this indicates the shifting of workforce from workers to supervisory and change in the skills needed.
The average workers are empowered by the introduction of the technology in some countries but disempowered in others. In Britain, the worker's response to the new technology differ as the effect of the technology, significance of the new skills from the technology and effect on bargaining power that was previously established. The unions saw the effect on number of jobs, content they have and the earnings. To further prove that the average worker was empowered the influence of unions on blue collared employees was significant. For example textile factory in Bombay, the union had a say on who to work on the technology, number of machines to be handled per worker.
Employees accepted the new technology, and appreciated the change. This acceptance was as a result of the perceived usefulness that was explained. This is for example the behavioral intention and perceived ease of use.
Technology made the jobs more challenging, creative and intellectual as it killed monotony. This is because, technology reduced the quantum of routine and repetitive jobs. The detection of faulty source required a thorough understanding of production process, and the familiarity with different machines that are used. As a result, the line of roles between different categories of workers became blurred. Having difficulty in separating machinery and management ideas, the performance of the textile organization relayed on interdependent and cooperative performance of the workforce.
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The technology made the job better for the average worker. This is because, programs of education were further redesigned in a manner that could sway positive fight workers of technology. The proposed new technology directly affected the perceived usefulness, and indirectly assisted workers through the system's ease of use. The study of workforce and roles among textile workers found a lot of overlaps of roles between jobbers, workers, supervisors, and the management in the automated textile mills, this was shown in a higher emphasis on group based incentive payment in automated mills. Distant from hard issues like salary and the situations which were major part of the union and management negotiations, softer, issues such as job satisfaction, progression of job, work autonomy among others would increase prominence.
In conclusion, the introduction of the technology that is new has been authorized by the need to the competitive conditions at the market place. The Indian textile industry has in the last couple of years been able to proactively give a respond to the market demands and the introduction of significant changes. Co-opting the employees in this change has given rise to fruits for several firms while others have been flattered on this foundation. There also exist a social cost to these change efforts and the management may be best advised to take into consideration these features for the next generation.