Skills for the New Digital Age

The digital age comes with far-reaching technological transformations. The emergence of the “Internet of Things” fosters networked production, allowing to satisfy diversified consumers’ demands. While those changes on the production side will help to better match consumers’ demand, they will also lead to substantial changes like labour demand.

The ongoing technological transformations are potentially labour-saving, allowing for a substitution of labour, i.e. human workforce, with capital, i.e. machinery. This does not only refer to the quantity of labour input, but also to its quality. However, technological change does also have the potential to create new jobs for workers who can complement technology with their specific skills. The structure of labour demand will change, increasingly rewarding human skills which complement technology. Broadly speaking, the employability of workers depends on their human capital, i.e. the aggregate cognitive and non-cognitive skills they have acquired over the course of their life-cycle. Those skills can be classified into three structurally different (though partially overlapping) sets of skills, namely “theoretical skills”, “practical skills” and “non-cognitive skills.”

Providing an educational infrastructure for vocational training, which conveys practical skills as well as theoretical and non-cognitive skills, is thus one essential prerequisite to successfully prepare workers for the digital age. Skill demand can be expected to change with technological progress continually. Thus, there is a growing need for workers to upgrade and diversify their skills to be able to complement technology in the digital age. Importantly, the measures to upgrade and diversify skills should improve the workers’ mobility across tasks and occupations, rather than manifest skills needed for specific tasks or jobs. Most obviously, life-long learning is the instrument to deal with an ever-changing skill demand from a worker’s perspective. Providing an educational infrastructure which allows for continuous skill-upgrading and diversification throughout the career, and which provides the appropriate corresponding incentives is thus another prerequisite to preparing workers for the digital age successfully.

What skills for the new digital age are required and how to best teach them? What are principles for the education and training in the digital age? How to revisit the public teaching and training policies against the background of the current technological transformations? What measures must be taken to ensure a high employability of the workforce? Which incentives are needed to participate in advanced training?

Wissenschaftlicher Partner:

Betreuer der YES!-Teams und Autor des Themenvorschlags:

Dennis Görlich

Foto: (c) IfW Kiel/ Studio 23

Dennis Görlich ist Leiter des Global Challenges Centers am Institut für Weltwirtschaft und Research Director der Global Solutions Initiative. Sein Arbeitsgebiet umfasst u.a. multilaterale Institutionen, insbesondere die G20.

Nach oben