OECD: Emerging Europe needs to upskill

The Czech Republic, Slovenia, Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia are the five emerging Europe countries with the highest share of employees who are at high risk of automation, according to Skills Outlook 2019, published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Additionally, countries like Hungary, also lack a daily exposure to digitalisation.

“In our rapidly digitalising world, skills make the difference between staying ahead of the wave and falling behind,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in Paris. “To help people, governments will need to find the right balance between policies fostering flexibility, labour mobility and job stability.”

Fifteen per cent of adults lack basic digital skills, and 13 per cent lack basic digital, numeracy and problem-solving skills. Those without these basic skills are most at risk of being left behind by the digital transformation.

In particular, Lithuania and Slovakia are not prepared to seize the benefits of digital transformation. In these countries lifelong learning systems, both formal and non-formal, need to be strengthened substantially to enable upskilling or re-skilling. The report suggests that these countries should foster lifelong learning by addressing inequalities in learning opportunities throughout life, adapting the school curriculum to changing skills requirements and providing more effective training to teachers. Technology can play a large role in making education and training systems more efficient, flexible and adaptable to individual needs. Therefore, in order to achieve this goal, it is also important that teachers receive the support they need to use technology in order to improve student outcomes. Up to six per cent of employees in the Czech Republic and Slovenia will need significant training to find new jobs, especially, keyboard operators, mining and construction labourers, plant operators and subsistence farmers.

“Businesses have also a key role to play in ensuring that employees up-skill and re-skill, adapting to the changing demands of the labour market. By improving our skills systems, we can ensure that today’s technological revolution will improve lives for all,” added Mr Gurría.

Overcoming the barriers to learning in adulthood is critical to deal with fast-changing skills demand. Countries can do this by creating flexible and shorter types of learning opportunities, improving the labour market relevance of adult learning and better recognising prior learning.