Are people are being ‘left behind’ by progress? Apps, drones, driverless cars, and other new technologies have the potential to revolutionise Europe’s economy. But what happens to low-skilled workers? Will they also benefit from Europe’s digital revolution? Or will they struggle to ‘up-skill’ and remain in the labour market? As the economy automates and grows, will it also create more jobs in the service sector? Or will the economy become more unequal, as highly-skilled workers reap the benefits, whereas traditional working class jobs dry up?

Economists claim that companies using the Internet are creating jobs at a faster rate than they lose them, including jobs in the service sector to support all those new computer scientists and engineers. The app economy alone has created more than 1.6 million European jobs. Yet, the new jobs require a completely different skill set to the old jobs. On current projections, over 750,000 ICT jobs could remain unfilled in Europe by 2020 due to a lack of digital skills in the workforce.

Curious to know more about how new technology is changing the labour market? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).
So, what do our readers think? On 28 March 2017, Debating Europe co-hosted an event in Brussels with Google on “Digital Transformation in the Mobile Era: New Skills, Jobs and Growth”, and we took some of your questions to participants.

First up, we had a comment from Anatilde, who is worried that new technology will eventually make low-skilled human workers obsolete.

To get a reaction, we put her comment to Vish Makhijani, President and Chief Operating Officer of Udacity, a for-profit educational organisation that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs). What would he say to Anatilde?

Next, we had a comment from Lila, who was not sure that the internet economy would also benefit older people, who may not be so comfortable with new technology.

For a response, we took her comment to Michael Quigley, Director of the European Office at the Progressive Policy Institute, a think-tank that promotes innovation and growth in a knowledge-based economy

Finally, we had a comment from Darcy, who wondered how can Europe close its ‘skills gap’, so that workers have the skills needed for a knowledge-based economy.

We took this to Christina J. Colclough, ‎Senior Advisor Communications on Digitalisation, Trade & Climate Change at the UNI Global Union, a global federation of unions in the skills and services sectors. What would she say?

Does technology create more jobs than it disrupts? And how can Europe close its “skills gap”, so that workers have the right set of skills for the changing labour market? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Steve Jurveston


48 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Oli Lau

    There are more “robots” in Germany than in France, even far more “robots” in South Korean than in France and yet…they both almost achieved full employment while the later experiences huge unemployement.

    There were similar debates circa 1850 with the arrival of automatic loom that indeed destroyed jobs but creates so many new ones.

    My current job for example didn’t exist 25 year ago.

  2. Γεώργιος Δανιηλίδης

    Job is the action of employee cannot be created.Technology increases production definitely.A JUST Society regulates required work to employ all citizens according their skills under fair conditions.

  3. Bobi Dochev

    No it doesn’t! In fact it is the time to put more taxes on the technological advanced manufactures and companies because they should cover the social expenses for the jobs people lost!

    • Ether Traveler

      Give me a break with those taxes. Is a matter of distribution. And it can be done without the nonesens of taxes. Humans should bring out that breaking head ideas . Sick and tired of that ‘economic sciences’ nonsens, obsolent, time & life stealing, “busy, busy, busy…” waste of life!

    • Bobi Dochev

      And… what is your idea? There are magazine without stuff, there are travel agencies without agent there are manufacturers without worker – thousands of jobs lost.
      What is your idea – to shoot those worker because somebody doesn’t want to pay taxes so they could live and retrain?!

    • Paul X

      The more you tax those with jobs to give to those who don’t, the less people are going to bother looking for jobs

  4. Erik Jakub Citterberg

    It does not matter. It really does not. You cannot fight technology and therefore the best you can do is to embrace the changes it brings.
    If anything you should embrace automation and use it to bring in automated jobs that were outsourced to foreign countries here and maybe enable to fully use its potential by even the smaller entrapeneurs.

    • Ether Traveler

      In part agree with your point of view. Namely, the part of “not matter” how long it’s in the equal distribution & the benefit of ‘the whole’ with the implimentation of the best.
      Less agree with the ‘country divisions & entrepeneurs’ part of your point of view. 😊

    • Erik Jakub Citterberg

      Ether Traveler What divisions?
      Don’t you think we should subsidy these kinds of technologies the same as we do with agriculture? I think it is area worthy of investment.

  5. Erik Jakub Citterberg

    It does not matter. It really does not. You cannot fight technology and therefore the best you can do is to embrace the changes it brings.
    If anything you should embrace automation and use it to bring in automated jobs that were outsourced to foreign countries here and maybe enable to fully use its potential by even the smaller entrapeneurs.

  6. Sebastiano Schavoir

    Why do universities in ome countries allow unlimited number of psychologists but ask engineering candidates to pass entrance exams?

  7. Chris Pavlides

    Tech its just a tool serving human needs. When it is used against we have a problem with the hand that holds it.

  8. Sebastiano Schavoir

    As if we had a choice between technologising and not technologising. By 2050, who’s not contributing to AI will be getting social aid.

  9. Любомир Иванчев

    Technology doesn’t create or destroy jobs by itself. Entrepreneurs and their business models do under the influence of the market. If you want to create more jobs you have to stimulate entrepreneurship and business endeavors and make it easy for them to develop their businesses. If you want to minimize the job loss because of automation, you need to allow for and stimulate flexible business models that can re-qualify people easy and fast and take them on for other roles after they’ve been sacked because of automation. The aim should be minimal downtime for workers after automation.

    • Barry Martins

      Paula, absolutely correct and thousands of other manufacturing jobs, All explorted to the EU with the EU giving our money to aid them to relocate all with the assent of our boody leaders.

    • Paula Pandora Allen

      far more jobs have gone to the east.. ask Virgin and Vodafone to name just 2

    • Stefania Portici

      da noi è uguale ! Questa idea di Unione Europea è stata forzata da Paesi esterni all’europa ma le regole economiche principali , le ha dettate la Francia e la Germania …… eh ….con chi ce la vogliamo prendere !? Un pochino di autoanalisi aiutano a farci uscire da questa morsa

  10. Barry Martins

    In the long term it will cause countless millions of subsistance living and this so called advance is pure greed of the so called elite and corporations and yet the powers that be still want to import hundreds of thousands of low skilled low quality workers and shirkers , It all stinks to high heaven.

  11. Dark Doomer

    the eyes on the LCD screen are totally pointless. who the fuck engineered this abomination?

  12. Bódis Kata

    Technology will create more jobs than it disrupts when those jobs pay enough salaries to keep up the consumption of products and especially services.
    The most labor-intensive jobs in a modern economy are in the services sector.

  13. Nayim Tami

    Depends of the technology. Robots are much cheaper than the human working force, companies use them basically, for reduce the salary charge in the company numbers, so at the end they destroy many working places, and create a few. Numbers are numbers, and robots are cheaper than humans. Is always the same in all the technological revolutions.

  14. Dobromir Panchev

    The original idea of having robots was to replace humans in hard and unpleasant work. So the aim of the engineers was to help people work less and live better. The economists did not get the idea. With the progress of science and technology today, it could be normal for people to work 4 hours a day, not 8.

  15. China Tee IV

    technology eliminate jobs than it creates. Machines replace people meaning many people will be left jobless which negatively affects them.

  16. Jason Cole

    did jobs disappear with the introduction of machinery in the industrial revolution? everybody claimed it would but no. the humans just moved to more high tech jobs, and also became consumers due to products being manufactured cheaper… same will happen with robots. initially some people will see their jobs go, but over time people will move to different jobs, every job a robot takes, you’ll still need an engineer to install and maintain that robot. and you’ll live a higher standard of living as costs come down, and more people can afford the products. more and more we are also looking at high level research, and in the next few decades space. and humans will always be required in many industries, such as care… with robotics we’ll also be able to allow for shorter working days for the same wage, meaning more people can actually enjoy their life instead of spending it working. this will then grow entertainment and leisure industries

  17. Per Eric Rosén

    Isn’t the whole idea “creating jobs” a bit outdated? We don’t need “jobs”, we need physical goods and services. If we get the same needs fulfilled with less person-hours, it’s in itself a good thing. It’s just that the design of how we provide for each other that has caught up.

  18. Barry Farmer

    The ideal outcome of robotic production is that the same amount of goods are produced with less human activity, thus allowing us more free time to use the increased prospertity generated – but wait – there’s some fucker making a huge profit and paying those workers who still remain even LESS than before….

    • Mike Dearing

      … so a more redistributive system of wealth is needed. Yes, if we’re not to be turned into slaves and beggars then the march of the fat cats has to be curbed somehow short of violent revolution.
      Red, black or red/black flag, anyone?

  19. Filip Anton

    A lot of people say NO but that’s because they are guessing. There’s a lot of technophobia going on and is not uncommon when new technologies threatened old ones. In real practice robots increase productivity by almost 300% which means 1 robot can work as hard as 3 people and make less mistakes. All the work they displace they also create more work from general labour to robot maintenance worker. Robots require a LOT of maintenance, inspection, and regular checks. So indeed all the work they displace they create. Also finally robots can produce so much that most people can be put on universal basic income giving more leisure to more creative endeavours so is not so grim of an outlook as people make it.

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