How the tech revolution is transforming the future of work

Written by Eva Maydell on 19 June 2018 in Opinion
Opinion

Policymakers and businesses must work together to help prepare people for jobs that don’t yet exist, writes Eva Maydell.

Eva Maydell | Photo credit: Natalie Hill


Fifteen years ago, no one would have known what a social media o­fficer was - not now. This is only the beginning; children in school today will likely have job titles that we have never heard of; it is our responsibility to ensure that their schools, universities and working conditions can respond to this challenge.

Some see this technological upheaval as a threat, but I firmly believe the fourth industrial revolution is an opportunity worth grasping with both hands. The technological revolution we are currently experiencing will inherently change and disrupt many facets of our lives, including how we work.

Meanwhile, the unprecedented speed of technological breakthroughs is also improving healthcare, making cars cleaner and more e­fficient, increasing our productivity and creating new types of jobs.


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Building a resilient labour market will be critical if we are to take full advantage of this upheaval. We need to start by identifying the skills necessary for the jobs of tomorrow.

As part of the ongoing effort to identify these future skills, I had the pleasure of hosting the LinkedIn Economic Graph Forum last month in Brussels. The Economic Graph is a digital map of the global economy which reveals the changes in workforce, skills, education and job opportunities that are currently taking place.

This is being used to help inform and shape labour market policy - in partnership with policymakers across Europe and around the globe - to provide real-time insights.

The high-level participants included European internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, Belgian deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, LinkedIn VP John Hielihy, Bulgarian deputy labour minister Zornitsa Roussinova and EPSC Director Ann Mettler. Together, we held a fascinating debate on how we can rise to the challenge of this new future of work.

Preparing people for jobs we don’t yet know exist means teaching one essential skill: learnability. In other words, learning how to learn. The workforce will need to reskill and upskill and for them to do so, they will need to know what has become obsolescent and what is newly in demand.

For our companies, industries and even countries to remain competitive, we must constantly assess market demand for different skills and share that knowledge with our workforce.

In Europe, more than 40 per cent of companies are already facing di­fficulty finding suitably skilled candidates for their job openings. They are not looking simply for IT skills - which are of course important in an age where artificial intelligence, data analytics and robotics are shaping the new normal - but also soft skills such as social techniques that are essential to keep up with constantly changing job requirements.

Ensuring our education systems are up-to-date is also of fundamental importance. In many countries, the school learning plans have not kept pace with the world around them. Continuing the teaching practices of the 20th century is already becoming counterproductive.

For me, the final piece of the jigsaw in building a flexible and resilient society is leadership. This must come from companies, which will need to show greater agility in the way they manage their workforce and from policymakers, which must adapt economic and social policies that provide people with new opportunities.

If we can do this, and embrace technological change rather than fearing it, we will see tangible benefits for all of us as individuals and for Europe’s overall competitiveness.

About the author

Eva Maydell (EPP, BG) is a member of Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee

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