Technology, education and pay

Date posted: September 16, 2011

Two big drivers of salaries in the past couple of decades have been education and technology. But do education and technology always work together in increasing what someone earns? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“Not necessarily. … And it’s really because there are two kinds of technology which have two different impacts on pay: One kind of technology makes routine tasks easy, and it’s the kind of technology that can be easily learned. So, for example, data entry or surveillance — both using technology — are good examples. Unfortunately, because those skills are easily learned, people who use them and work with them don’t necessarily get paid very much. In fact, the advent of those kinds of technologies could actually lower pay for those workers.

“The second kind of technology though is the kind that is used for analysis and research. So, this would be the technology that allows people to do more research — more analysis — more effectively. This kind of technology requires skill and judgment to be effectively used, and this does compliment education. And so this is where technology and education work together to increase pay.

“So, obviously for someone who’s looking for a job and looking for an occupation or profession, if they’re going to use technology, they’d rather train to use that kind of technology requiring skill and judgment that will result in higher pay.”

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