27th March 2017

OECD S.Scarpetta: „Not everyone should be a coder, but the important thing is to use the new digital economy in an effective way in the workplace.“

Profound changes will reshape our labour market, Stefano Scarpetta, Director, OECD Directorate of Employment, says, adding that "The challenge of #digital change is not unemployment but labour #inequality". There will be some workers who will have the skills to access the new, dynamic, rewarding career opportunities, while others will be more likely to rely on unstable, low-paid jobs. One of the ways to go ahead is to be able to adapt skills throughout the working life.

What we have seen in advanced economies, he says, is a polarization of the labour market. The labour demand goes for high-skill, low-routine jobs, but also for a low number of low-skill, low-routine jobs. The rest are jobs where intermediate skills are required; and where workers may be at risk of unemployment or they will need to adapt their skills to new jobs. Education will be important, but particularly soft skills that you only learn at work, will be in demand.

Some of the OECD data suggest that, depending on a country, some 40-50% of workers in the labour market today have very little or no digital skills. „Not everyone should be a coder, but the important thing is to use the new digital economy in an effective way in a workplace,“ he says. Lifelong learning is a big challenge. It will reduce the inequality in the labour market. As for the on-the-job learning, the problem in some countries is that more skilled workers receive more training and less skilled workers receive less training. Also, the link between the world of work and the world of education needs to be improved – that is to build the skills.  

The platform economy and the new type of work contract is a phenomenon. But our social policy is not organized around this type of contract, Mr Scarpetta says. Institutions in most OECD countries work with the model of employee who works full-time for the employer. Independent workers having 2-3 jobs or changing jobs rapidly are not covered in many ways. There is a lot to be done to adapt our policy and institutions to the new reality, he says. A lot can be learned from Estonia in this field. 

Listen to full interview.

Read also a cfoworld.cz article (in Czech) saying that in 2016, 65% of 8,142 respondents in the U.S.A., Canada, Germany, France and Finland, compared with 62% in the previous year, believed that a computer will never be able to perform 100% of their job.

Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic