Skill (labor)

Skill is a measure of the amount of worker's expertise, specialization, wages, and supervisory capacity. Skilled workers are generally more trained, higher paid, and have more responsibilities than unskilled workers.[1]

Skilled workers have long had historical import (see Division of labor) as masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, brewers, coopers, printers and other occupations that are economically productive. Skilled workers were often politically active through their craft guilds.

Relative demand of skilled labor

One of the factors that increases the relative demand for skilled labor is the introduction of computers. In order to operate computers, workers must build up their human capital in order to learn how such a piece of machinery works. Thus, there is an increase in the demand for skilled labor. In addition to the technological change of computers, the introduction of electricity also replaces man power (unskilled labor) which alters the demand for labor skills.

Technology, however, is not the only factor. Trade and the effects of globalization also play roles in affecting the relative demand for skilled labor. For example, a developed country purchasing imports from a developing country, which then replaces products made with domestic, low-skills labor. This, in turn, decreases the demand for low-skills workers in the developed country. Both of these factors may increase the wages of highly skilled workers in the developed country.

See also


  1. Cowan, Ruth Schwartz (1997), A Social History of American Technology, New York: Oxford University Press, p. 179, ISBN 0-19-504605-6

Further reading

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