The future is not jobless, but learning intensive
Top of Digital Europe, ICT think tank for the Baltic Sea Region, has today released State of the Digital Region 2017: Exploring Automation, Education and Learning in the Baltic Sea Region.
The report is the region’s most comprehensive overview of how the countries in the BSR, often ranked as global digital frontrunners, are performing within the digital economy, with recommendations to how they can retain their presence as a leading global ICT hub.
Each year the report focuses on timely issues associated with the digital economy and its effects on BSR countries. In 2015 the importance of a regional market for human capital was emphasized, and in 2016 a focus on the role of cities connecting the digital economy was stressed. This year, the spotlight turns to automation, education and learning, asking the question: how can BSR countries set the right framework and conditions, to ensure current and future workers possess the relevant skills and competences required in a rapidly changing and increasingly hard to predict digital labour market?
Automation & Education – A tricky path that requires adaptability at all levels
The report comments that automation and education are part of a larger learning shift in the digitized economy. Such a shift is being driven by the rapid and exponential rate of technological development which includes processes such as the automation of tasks. The expected effects of such processes are already having, and will continue to have both positive and negative consequences across economies, industries, worker groups and individuals. It is noted that across the BSR, job polarization (the gap between high and low skilled labour) is at real risk of intensifying. As such, uncertainty amongst different groups in society about the future of jobs and labour markets is rising, and the question of how workers can adapt and learn the skills required to meet future labour demand and the changing configuration of what ‘a job’ entails becomes particularly relevant.
It is highlighted that, with a focus on adaptability and learning, Baltic Sea countries can develop policy frameworks to capitalize on the changing dynamics of the digitized economy. Such policy frameworks would be further strengthened by macro- regional cooperation, to align and complement skills and learning requirements. The main policy recommendations from the report state the need for:
- A BSR Wide Education Testbed: A joint testbed initiative would co-ordinate national approaches across the region with a purpose to reinvent education, from elementary school to on the job training, to reflect projected digital economy conditions.
- Education Institutions Fit for the Digitized Learning Economy: A change in education institutional frameworks to provide individuals with lifelong learning opportunities, to better match the speed and uncertainty of changes in projected labour market skills.
- Economies that encourage new forms of ‘jobs’: An adaptation of labour market policy and regulation to incentivize businesses and entrepreneurs that can test innovative configurations of jobs and tasks.
An ongoing debate
Throughout 2018 Top of Digital Europe will conduct a number of workshops to debate and discuss the State of the Digital Region 2017 report. Read the report here or contact Baltic Development Forum Head of Digital and Public Affairs, Torben Aaberg, for more information.