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Volume 983: debated on Wednesday 30 April 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what assessment has been made of the effect on employment of the microchip, particularly with regard to potential job loss, working conditions and flexible working hours.

There have been numerous studies at national level on the employment effect of microelectronics. They contain a wide range of predictions, and there are similar uncertainties attached to any such exercise at the regional level. A study has been made of the impact of microelectronics and computerisation in the Province's clothing industry, which suggested that microelectronics would not have a major effect on employment in this sector in Northern Ireland. The study formed part of a wider investigation by the Department of Employment into the manpower implications of microelectronics technology, a report of which has been placed in the Library.

A working group of officials has been set up to monitor all aspects of microelectronics in Northern Ireland.