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!