Skills for the New Digital Age

This project is supported by our academic partner Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) and the researcher Dennis Görlich.

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?


The team of the ZBW Leibniz Information Center for Economics gathered a selection of related literature on this list. You can search for more information and literature at Econbiz. We also put together some more tips for researching (in German).

YES! Teams


Logo Anne-Frank-Schule Bargteheide
Logo Richard-Hallmann-Schule Trappenkamp

The topic “Skills for the New Digital Age” can be selected by YES!  teams from the region North as a YES! 2017 topic.


The team of the Richard-Hallmann-Schule Trappenkamp has chosen this topic for their work in the YES! 2017.


Find out more about the YES! 2017 team of the Richard-Hallmann-Schule Trappenkamp here on their introduction website.

Academic Partner


Logo - Kiel Institute for the World Economy

The project “Skills for the New Digital Age” was proposed by researchers at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW). The YES! Team is supported by the researcher Dennis Görlich.

Joint Project of

The YES! – Young Economic Summit is a joint project of the  ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the Joachim Herz Stiftung in Hamburg.


The ZBW is the world’s largest information centre for economic literature and excellently positioned to help students gain information literacy and provide relevant resources.


The Joachim Herz Stiftung is economically independent and politically neutral. The foundation has a wide experience in developing ideas and implementing projects for young people, in particular on economic education.

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Laura Bickel
Project Manager
t: +49 (0) 431 8814 359

Portrait Kai Meinke

Kai Meinke
Project Manager
t: +49 (0) 431 8814 643

Photo credits (top to bottom): (c) / a-image, (c) IfW – Kiel Institute for the Economy, (c) / Jacek Rogoz, (c) ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft, (c) Joachim Herz Stiftung.