Abstract

This paper describes a method for measuring job skills using survey data on detailed work activities, and using these measures examines whether the utilisation of skills is growing, and how they are valued in the labour market. We show that between 1997 and 2001 there was a growth in Britain in the utilisation of computing skills, literacy, numeracy, technical know-how, high-level communication skills, planning skills, client communication skills, horizontal communication skills, problem-solving, and checking skills. Computer skills utilisation was growing the fastest, and the use of computers was becoming more sophisticated. We re-evaluate the issue of whether computers have affected wages, taking into account existing critiques in the literature. We find that both computer skills and high-level communication skills carry positive wage premia, as shown both in cross-section hedonic wage equations that control for many detailed activities, and through a within-cohorts change analysis.

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