Provision and development of skills, including digital skills, in the context of new forms of work: new policies and changing roles and responsibilities (exploratory opinion requested by the Estonian Presidency)
EESK:s yttrande: Provision and development of skills, including digital skills, in the context of new forms of work: new policies and changing roles and responsibilities (exploratory opinion requested by the Estonian Presidency)
Due to the availability of very high-capacity broadband networks, a growing number of atypical work forms are being developed. The EESC emphasises that in view of this growth of atypical work, ‒ with workers frequently lacking access to traditional, company-based training schemes ‒, the provision of social security and the avoidance of poverty must be given high priority and social risks should be dealt with through the coordinated efforts of all stakeholders, including social partners and companies. In this context, the EESC would like to see certain national initiatives developed by trade unions and the civil society for the provision of guidance to crowdworkers, taken up by the Commission and applied at European scale. Increasing information asymmetry between consumers and businesses, on the other hand, will have to be dealt with by methods such as the ethical codes for liberal professions.
Automation and robots will also have a significant impact on the future of work: they can replace monotonous, heavy or dangerous work and can be particularly helpful for people with physical disabilities; they have the potential to stabilise the economy in an ageing society. Yet, a significant number of jobs will be affected by the introduction of more robots into the workplace. This is why the EESC believes that a social dialogue will be needed at an early stage.
Taking into account these challenges, the EESC is of the opinion that it should be ensured that appropriate skills will be available, so that Europe remains competitive and is able to create new businesses and new jobs, people can remain integrated into the labour market throughout their entire working lives, and well-being for all is assured. These future skills should match societal needs and the demands of the labour market. Lifelong learning will be a necessity for everyone, while much more time will have to be devoted to professional training and informal learning. More specifically, public and private organisations will have to provide professional training in new technologies, especially for those who do not have the capacity to organise training themselves, such as SMEs, the liberal professions and the self-employed. Long-term developments though, which may lead to new and unpredictable challenges where today’s skills can quickly become obsolete, can best be dealt with by general education. Qualitative preparation of educators will, therefore, be of key importance, according to the EESC, as well as their status in terms of professional flexibility, remuneration, and social guarantees.