1st Pillars Conference "Education, Skills and Worker Retraining"

Until just a few decades back you could count on the education you got in college seeing you all the way to retirement. Now, you have to reinvent yourself professionally several times during your working life just to stay current. Lifelong learning is the name of the game, and training and re-skilling the tools of choice.

Exploring the many aspects of this new reality was the topic of the PILLARS inaugural conference, encapsulated under its Education, Skills and Worker Retraining heading. The proceedings were divided into eight sessions that discussed two dozen papers over two days, with topics covering a wide range of labour market challenges and a number of geographical locations. You can review the program here.

But the conference offered much more than just discussing ongoing research: it gave junior researchers a superb opportunity to interact directly with senior researchers. For one thing, the PhD papers presented always had as discussant a seasoned scholar. For another, special Junior-Senior Sessions were organized to bring together junior researchers with each of the two keynote speakers, Sandra McNally and Eric Hanushek, one held on the conference’s second day, the other about a week later.

Sandra McNally, of the University of Surrey, promptly delved into the core of the overall topic in her keynote speech, devoted to Training and Re-Skilling in the Labour Market, by reviewing current research on many aspects relevant to this pursuit.

At the end of the second day of the conference, Eric Hanushek, the doyen of the economics of education, gave a keynote speech full of insights on Lifelong Learning and Dynamic Adjustments to Changes in the Labour Market.

A video with interviews of 6 participants sharing their views of the conference is available here.

The proceedings wrapped up with a tasting of fine wine that had previously been shipped to all participants. The clinking of glasses was virtual, but the wine itself tasted really, really good. 

The PILLARS researchers, who have clearly been quite busy since the project’s inception, will now have to start cramming for the mid-terms. Once they are sober again, that is.


Education, Skills and Worker Retraining