There is an emerging change in the role of education and skills in working lives and career trajectories. Increasingly, the end of traditional education merely marks the beginning of lifelong acquisition of new skills. Many job functions are developing and changing – or are predicted to change – because of rapid technological innovation, which necessitates the development of new skills; or for some individuals, new career paths. At the same time, the number of years Europeans spend working will continue to increase.
In such an environment, building structures that strengthen resilience to changes in the work force and skills needs and encourage lifelong learning is ever more important, both for economic and individual welfare reasons. The importance of these priorities is reflected in a number of initiatives taken by the European Commission, including the Digital Skills and Jobs Agenda, Lifelong Learning Programme and Digital Skills and Jobs coalition.#
These initiatives as well as others taken in the member states suggest that policymakers are aware of the emerging changes in the labour market. Nevertheless, they lack an analytical underpinning, which can help in capitalising these changes, e.g. skills upgrading. The problem is not only related to limited knowledge of current demand for and supply of skills (let alone future demand for skills), but also to the issue of which skills are transferable between occupations. While it is clear that lifelong learning is important, there is little guidance as to which skills will increase the resilience of individuals and societies in the face of transformative change.
This proposal aims at addressing this gap in knowledge. It contains two major parts: ‘resilience through skills’ and ‘resilience through mobility’.