All set to tackle technological change with further training!?


This challenge was introduced by Sylvi Rzepka and Rebecca Fehn, researchers at RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research in Essen.


Digitisation and automation will significantly change the labour market and the need for further training. Recent studies estimate that about 6-12% of current jobs may be lost to automatization. For another 25% of jobs, we will see a drastic change in the task requirements. Thus, employees will need to perform new tasks within their current occupation.


Training plays a crucial role in making this technological change in the labour market as smoothly as possible. Appropriate further training can help employees adjust to these changes in the labour market. The new, digital learning options, like massive open online courses or educational applications, can make further training much more comfortable, as they provide low-priced, high-quality training everywhere at any time.


Challenge: However, studies point to an unequal participation in further training about educational background and age. It is viewed especially problematic that low-skilled employees participate less often in further training than high-skilled. Also, they use the internet less often for educational purposes than high-skilled employees, even when they have access to fast internet. This is also called the “digital divide”.


What is the current state of competencies of the German labour force, especially concerning information and communication technology (ICT literacy)?



How do these competencies differ across different population groups (e.g. education or age)? To what extent is there a “digital divide” regarding digital media usage in Germany?


How does the current participation in further training vary across different population groups?


What kind of policies has already been introduced to foster further training? What kind of incentives and/ or regulatory framework could policymakers set to ensure that in the future all employees, primarily the low-skilled, participate in further training  – both in online and in traditional (offline) courses?

Recommended literature



Arntz, Melanie; Gregory, Terry; Zierahn, Ulrich (2016): The Risk of Automation for Jobs in OECD Countries: A Comparative Analysis. In: OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 189.


Autor, David H. (2015): Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation. In: Journal of Economic Perspectives 29 (3), S. 3 -30. (David Autor delivered a TED-Talk on this topic: )


Autorengruppe Bildungsberichterstattung (2016): Nationaler Bildungsbericht. Chapter G.



Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (2017): Datenreport zum Berufsbildungsbericht 2017. Informationen und Analysen zur Entwicklung der beruflichen Bildung. Bonn.



The Economist (2017), Special report: Lifelong education, 14. Jan. 2017.



Moraal, Dick (2007): Berufliche Weiterbildung in Deutschland. BIBB.



OECD (2013): OECD Skills Outlook 2013. First Results from the Survey of Adult Skills. Paris: OECD Publishing.


OECD (2016): Skills matter. Further results from the survey of adult skills. Paris: OECD Publishing.


Zilien, Nicole (2013): Digitale Spaltung – Reproduktion sozialer Ungleichheiten im Internet. BPB.

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