Paweł Poszytek, PhD, Director General of the Polish National Agency of Erasmus+ Programme. Member of several working groups by the European Commission and the Ministry of National Education of the Republic of Poland, coordinator of the Country profile Project implemented by the Council of Europe. Reviewer of the national core curriculum in foreign language teaching in 2008 and co-author of 2016/2017 curriculum update. Former member of the executive board of the European Association of Language Teaching and Assessment. Former coordinator of Lingua, European Language Label and eTwinning programmes in Poland and member of the board of the Polish National Agency of Lifelong Learning Programme. Mr. Paweł Poszytek presented the Higher Education-Business Engagement Index on several international conferences, i.e. during UIIN conference in Adelaide in February 2017.
The future of work: Demographic change, globalization and technological progress are three key trends that are very likely to affect the quality and quantity of lives and jobs in the next 20 - 30 years.
• Demographic change
Most of the developed countries will undergo a significant demographic change in the next decades. A sharp decline in the share of working age population is expected for example in Japan (-28%, -23% in Germany and Italy), while some countries expect a significant increase in the working-age population (+41% in Saudi Arabia, +33% in India, + 27% in Australia).
Countries with ageing population will experience a shortage of skilled and qualified labour force, as large cohorts will retire and disappear from labour market, which will also pose a problem for both pension and health care system. This will be reflected in the economy, which is likely to relocate its labour and resources from durable goods (cars, TVs) to services (health care, elderly people care). At the same time countries with younger and growing workforce, an opposite trend will be observed, with the expansion of the middle class and urbanization processes.
Trade has a growing share in the GDP of the developed countries, which makes the global economy integrated to a unprecedented level. The rapid fall of costs of communication an transportation has allowed for the integration of goods, services and markets and accelerated the pace of dissemination of innovations and technological progress. Global markets are thus globally interconnected, resulting, more than ever before, in “butterfly effect”.
• Technological progress
An increasing number of tasks and operations performed until now by humans is possible to be automated, especially given the rapid development of big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of things, accompanied by ever-increasing computing power.
The three above-mentioned trends are more than likely to influence the education and work-related values of the 21st century societies, not only in terms of goods and services they demand, but also in their attitudes towards work. The work might shift from hourly-regulated to task-oriented, which could have a positive influence on work-life balance and health of the employees. At the same time, the place of work might change as well, as more and more tasks will be possible to be performed remotely, for example from the employee household. As a result, the boundary between “work time” and “private or family time” will slowly disappear and the idea of work-life balance might become “work-life integration”.
Skills and competences: Governments will need to ensure that workers are equipped with the right type of skills to navigate successfully through an ever-changing, technology-rich work environment. This will require high-quality initial education and training, but also good skills assessment and anticipation systems, the right types of incentives for individuals to invest in those skills most needed in the labour market, and the provision of effective, up-to-date and tailored information, advice and guidance. It will also require modern systems of lifelong learning to help workers adapt and update their skills over the course of their career.
Two types of skills are likely to be particularly important in the future. First, with the disappearance of routine tasks, growing emphasis will be placed on skills which are more difficult to automate. In particular, there is evidence that the labour market is increasingly rewarding soft skills such as the ability to communicate, work in teams, lead, solve problems and self-organise (e.g. Deming, 2015). Second, the importance of digital skills is increasing. While the demand for ICT specialist skills has been growing fast, the existing evidence does not suggest that major shortages are likely to arise. However, there is much more concern about individuals’ ICT generic skills, such as the ability to use communication and information search or office productivity software. Here, existing evidence suggests a significant mismatch between the demand and supply of skills (OECD, 2016d). Moreover, the concept of lifelong learning is worth stressing and further development. Workers will not gain job-related knowledge only at school or university. More and more often, they will acquire new skills and competences in the non-formal and informal education as well as at their place of work. Companies could therefore become also hubs of knowledge and take over the role previously reserved to educational institutions.