Technical Workers and the Division of Labour

  • Chris Smith


In line with other findings on the work of technical staff, this study identified several key features typical of most technical occupations (Roberts, Loveridge and Gennard, 1972). Firstly, the craft nature of many technical jobs required practical engineering knowledge of machinery and production processes, in addition to more ‘theoretical’ skills. A planning engineer illustrated the problems encountered by someone without this craft background:

We have had cases where a person’s been transferred into this department and he may never have been on a machine, and he’s completely lost. Because he just doesn’t know what is happening. When he says [to the operator], you know, ‘mill this’ or ‘turn that’, he doesn’t know what’s going to happen because he’s never done it himself.

The polarity between technical and manual workers suggested by concepts such as ‘mental’ and ‘manual’ labour, was more fiction than fact for the majority of technical staff at Filton. By training, background and daily co-operative practice, there was considerable mutuality between skilled manual workers and established technical occupations.


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Copyright information

© Chris Smith 1987

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  • Chris Smith

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