06 November 2023
The OECD today published the 2023 edition of its biannual Skills Outlook, “Skills for a Resilient Green and Digital Transition.” Overall, the Outlook makes a very welcome contribution to OECD analysis and discussion on the green and digital transitions. It underscores the need to take into account distributional impacts and highlights the need for investments in skills to be accompanied by other measures including, in particular, social protection to support communities throughout the transition.
The Outlook’s key findings, messages and recommendations include:
• Governments should promote a culture of lifelong learning and foster equal access to education and training opportunities. Lifelong learning is crucial to equip individuals and societies to navigate change. However, data continues to show that participation in adult learning is low, particularly among those likely to be most in need of training. Policy makers should “create flexible education and training opportunities that take into account individuals’ unique barriers to participation…and target those in greatest need of support”, to ensure that investments in skills development reach and benefit those vulnerable to changing conditions. Efforts should be made to reduce the effects of barriers – such as time, cost, lack of information, and lack of motivation – to participation.
• The impacts of policies to achieve net-zero targets will be concentrated in particular sectors and regions. For example, although the European Union’s Fit for 55 policy package is projected to result in an overall increase in employment, blue-collar work is projected to shrink – and by as much as 90% in sectors such as mining coal and lignite. Considering and addressing the distributional implications of policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions is crucial, as is monitoring the effects of decarbonisation policies to ensure that policies to support displaced workers are timely and tailored to workers’ needs.
“TUAC hopes to see these constructive findings and messages followed-up in future OECD work with calls and recommendations to governments to facilitate and reinforce social dialogue and collective bargaining. This is critical to address current labour market challenges and ensure all companies and workers benefit from the green and digital transitions.”
• Countries need to ensure that efforts to promote environmental sustainability “also aim to ensure that the green transition will be a just and inclusive transition, leading to improvements in working conditions and minimising widespread job losses and contractual instability,” and efforts to reduce emissions in production must be complemented by investments in resilient labour markets. Skills policies play an essential role in ensuring that greening the economy does not lead to new forms of vulnerability and deprivation. However, crucial as they are, skills policies are only part of a broader set of policies that are needed to ensure the transition is just and inclusive. These include social policies, active labour market policies, and local economic development policies. In particular, minimising transition costs (including economic costs and reduced overall well-being) “requires organising social protection to support groups of individuals for whom viable transitions are not feasible or are too costly to be implemented.”
• Achieving green objectives while maintaining strong labour markets requires the participation of key actors, including governments as well as social partners.
• Demand for professionals working in the development and deployment of AI (artificial intelligence) is growing rapidly: between 2019 and 2022, the share of online job vacancies requiring AI skills increased by 33% in 14 countries with available data. The demand for professionals to fill positions requiring AI-related skills is currently highly concentrated in sectors and occupations, with the majority of job postings requiring AI skills being for positions in Professional Activities (25%), Information and Communications Technology (ICT) (24%), and Manufacturing (13%). Previous research has also shown that the AI workforce currently lacks diversity, being disproportionately male and having high levels of educational qualifications.
“TUAC hopes to see these constructive findings and messages followed-up in future OECD work with calls and recommendations to governments to facilitate and reinforce social dialogue and collective bargaining” said Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary of TUAC. “This is critical to address current labour market challenges and ensure all companies and workers benefit from the green and digital transitions.”