How governments can plan for the future of work
Planning ahead for the demographic and technological changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution requires policymakers and industry leaders to have access to comprehensive and relevant labor market data. Last month, we hosted our first European Economic Graph Forum in the European Parliament in Brussels to explore the future of work and impact of access to these insights.
The event brought together policymakers and key stakeholders to showcase concrete examples of how cities and regions in the EU have been reacting to recent labor market changes and training their workforce to ensure they obtain the skills they need to work in tomorrow’s economy. Here’s a quick recap of our takeaways from the conversation:
- Governments need to shift focus from job creation to skill development in order to thrive. As new technology and jobs are created, skills will become the essential capital for the 21st century global economy. While it is certain that basic technical competencies will become increasingly important for a number of different fields, the importance of soft skills - including communication skills, critical thinking, and teamwork - will remain as important, or perhaps even more so, in a world of AI and robotics.
- Collaboration between the private and public sectors will equip institutions to best prepare the modern workforce. During her keynote, Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska explained that European companies currently highlight frequent shortages of highly skilled workers and that these gaps will only increase if steps are not put in place to correctly map labor market evolutions to anticipate future industry demand. Despite the challenges this Fourth Industrial Revolution brings, this time can be an opportunity for the growth of nations that choose to prepare their workers.
- Learning how to learn is more important than ever for professionals. Europe’s education systems need to evolve alongside the changing labor market, reevaluating both what is taught and how it is taught. Ann Mettler, Head of the European Political Strategy Centre, advocated the need for increased focus on experiences rather than degrees, as she believes that the past “obsession with formal education is getting us nowhere.” Modern employers are more focused on finding employees that can learn quickly to tackle new challenges rather than employees with a specific degree, and thus, talent development should no longer be limited to formalized academic systems.
- Continuous education and re-skilling will be essential for sustained success in our evolving global economy. As the economy changes, new skills and jobs will be created and others eliminated. The European education system needs to be equally dynamic, creating innovative and individualized opportunities for workers to develop new skills throughout their career. Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, emphasized the need for greater access to these continued, lifelong learning courses.
- Data-driven policy is crucial to forecasting the future needs of the economy. Preparing the European workforce for jobs and skill sets that may not exist yet is one of the greatest challenges facing policymakers. Leveraging data is key to creating meaningful strategies to respond to economic change and bolster societal resilience. Marie-Claire Carrère-Gée, President of the French Conseil d’orientation pour l’emploi, emphasized the necessity for governments to have comprehensive, real-time insights about skill evolutions from the Economic Graph to supplement shortages in federally collected data.
A big thank you to MEP Eva Maydell, who hosted us at the Parliament and without whom this conversation would not have been possible. For further insights on skills evolution, European educational institutions, and the importance of creating policy rooted in data, enjoy additional highlights from the event below.