Wednesday, 7 June 2006

Assembly Evolution (7/7)

Job enrichment increases the responsibility of the assembly worker by giving more opportunity to make decisions. If the responsibility of the assembly worker is increased then it is anticipated that the feeling of job fulfilment will also be increased. Job enrichment, by the strictest definition, is more easily applied to skilled or semi-skilled employees.  Nevertheless, forms of job enrichment have been applied to assembly workers in car factories and electrical companies with some success.

There are many critics of the theories of job enrichment and job enlargement. The trade unionist view of these ideas is that the workers are misled into participation and into accepting leadership, whilst the 'conflict' between the workers and management remains unchanged. Others claim that the nature of the work is only one of the many factors contributing to the attitude of workers towards their jobs. It is the nature of the job itself, that enrichment theorists believe is the difference between satisfied and dissatisfied workers. By changing the nature of the job, social attitude will also change. Others claim that the nature of the work is not the top priority and other factors such as; pay, working conditions, job security and the attitude of the supervisors must also be considered. Assembly workers have individual preferences for the nature of the job. Some prefer routine work, whilst others enjoy performing complex tasks. Many workers purposefully don’t choose the job that they would most enjoy, in return for higher pay. Others, in periods of high unemployment, necessarily accept any paying job to financially support themselves and their families.

The future

Globalization and “offshoring” has transferred assembly work jobs from the developed nations to the developing nations to achieve lower assembly costs.  It was believed by most, a few decades ago, that the displacement of assembly workers would result from the domestic implementation of assembly automation.  It was not foreseen that developing nations’ infrastructure improvements, lowered trade barriers, foreign direct investment encouragement and lower logistics costs would cause the transfer of domestic assembly jobs to overseas locations.

However, the economic benefit of “offshoring” assembly work is now being eroded by higher wage demands in the developing nations, higher logistics prices, copyright infringements and the lower cost of assembly automation.

Assembly automation reduces the cost of producing goods domestically and the availability of goods at economic prices creates a higher standard of living.  The lower labour content in producing goods leads to a shorter working week.  The greater availability of human resources, if used wisely, should be available to achieve a better quality of life for all.

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