I have not followed this thread. However I have some facts from the
company I work for that may be of use.
The workforce has declined by 21% over the past 5 years through attrition,
a voluntary early retirement program, and better performance management.
The biggest declines are in management and supervisory ranks where there
is a 50% reduction. It still takes almost the same number of workers to
do the work on the shop floor, but as better educated workers, with new
technology, and with a new paradigm (e.g. learning organization,
self-managing teams, etc.) pick up more and more of the work that was
previously done by others, the overall workforce requirements are less.
The kind of new technology that replaces 150 workers making a radio on a
long assembly line with transistors etc. with 1 worker in automated
electronic assembly has not quite hit this industry yet, but it is coming.
The simplicity is that the reason why companys are 'downsizing' is to
survive to compete another year.
Employees in this company have an 'employment security' guarantee, but not
a 'job security' guarantee. This means that if they want a job, the
company will retrain them. However, for accountants, HRD professionals
and engineers who are offered work on the shop floor, this sometimes feels
It is unfortunate that such a word even exists. The issue is not 'class
warfare.' Rather it is how do we adapt to the new realities brought by new
technology and new paradigms. I have seen people make very bad personal
decisions emotionally without adequate understanding of the business
imperatives that are driving change world wide. We have found that
win-win solutions are possible. The number of native persons, women, etc.
engaged in non-traditional work is increasing annually. The number of
previous white collar workers who are now engaged using their 'heads' as
they always did, but also using their 'bodies' on the tools as well is
impressive --- and vice versa. Maladaptation is always a choice, but is
"DeGuerre, Don" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>