China and Europe pose a conundrum to each other. Europe squirms uncomfortably between the USA and China in their superpower competition, trying to stay on good terms with both at the same time as minimising any risk of economic or geopolitical fallout. China, in turn, must weigh which partnership to prioritise: its newly minted “no-limits” friendship with Russia, or a closer relationship with Europe as a counterweight to the pressure exerted, and restrictions imposed, on it by the US.
It was the ideal line-up for a workshop to explore the future of work: Pillars hand-in-hand with its partner the ifo Institute and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Munich and Upper Bavaria. The task: to review how data can be leveraged to ascertain not only the state of skills availability, but also which skills will be needed in the future.
At first sight it is a bit of a paradox. On the one hand, it has long been clear that the skills you acquire, say, at university no longer will see you through to the end of your career life: you have to reinvent yourself several times along the way just to stay current. On the other hand, the skills that you learn early in your career will boost your earnings throughout your entire working life.
It would be a match made in heaven: the OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills (known officially as the Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, PIAAC) and the European Commission’s ESCO project (a multilingual classification of European Skills, Competences, Qualifications, and Occupations). Together, they would create an invaluable map of the supply and demand for professional skills across countries.
Sunny days and tight labor markets have something in common: they don’t trigger an urge to repair anything. But just as a sunny day is better for fixing the roof, instead of climbing on slippery slates during a downpour, tight-labor periods are good for preparing for more turbulent times ahead. And turbulence is definitely coming to a labor market near you.
Losing one‘s job is one of the more severe psychological blows one can experience, similar in magnitude to a divorce. But while a divorce might actually improve your marriage skills for the next time around, especially because the skills needed remain practically identical, in a job-loss situation the skills used previously can become degraded or obsolete, in particular if the jobless period drags on, resulting over time in a skill mismatch with what the labor market requires.
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.