From 3rd to 4th May 2018, a seminar on "Technological evolution: challenge for proactive personnel and employment policies" took place in Trogir, Croatia, organized by Europees Forum VZW, in cooperation with EZA and the European Union. The seminar was part of the EZA project coordination on "quality of work".
The aim of this seminar was to gain a broad insight into the consequences of technological evolution for employment in the interests of a forward-looking personnel policy in companies and / or industries. The issue was discussed from different perspectives so that a lot of experiences could be exchanged among the participating representatives of workers' organizations.
The problem was worked out by experts. In her introduction, Ms Rein De Tremerie outlined an overall picture of all aspects, consequences and important points of technological development that play a role in the quantity and quality of jobs. The results should provide a basis for turning problems into opportunities, opportunities and challenges. Mr Jan Denys, labour market expert, in his contribution dealt with the objectification of problems, assumptions, stories and predictions by juxtaposing hard data with hard facts. A strong emphasis has also been placed on lifelong learning and the growing importance of human capital.
The political perspective was treated from a European and a national perspective. Mr Istvan Vanyolos (DG V) highlighted in the basic document "The European Pillar of Social Rights" principles such as equal opportunities and access to the labour market, good working conditions and effective social protection. Here, too, the importance of future-oriented and technological education, lifelong learning and active support for employment policy was emphasized. Minister of Employment and Pensions Marko Pavic and State Secretary Katarina Ivankovic presented the Croatian government's forward-looking employment policy. On the one hand, it is about improving working conditions and strengthening social dialogue. On the other hand, the implementation of lifelong learning projects, dual learning systems and the development of inclusion projects, as well as the provision of local social services, are on the agenda. From the point of view of Belgian politics, Mr Vincent Van Peteghem, a member of the Belgian Federal Parliament, outlined the programme "work that can be done and modulated", which should allow longer careers. Family support, health prevention and adapted work play an important role in this.
Practical experiences from different areas occupied an important place in the seminar. An example from the Croatian telecommunications industry by Marko Palada shows the growing complexity in the workplace. The technological evolution provides for an ever broader field of knowledge, but also an increasing workload due to unrealisable standards, which is not absorbed by a future-oriented training policy. Mrs. Leen Van Den Neste (Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Belgian vdk-Bank) explained the challenges facing the Bank due to the change in the financial sector. The starting point is ethical and sustainable banking. The increasing automation of functions, such as a shift from personal contact to Internet banking, is leading to the disappearance of jobs but also to the creation of new jobs. This requires a personnel policy that focuses on redirection and new employee profiles. This means a continuous training and retraining process, which also includes the commitment of the employees to grow together with the company. Technological development is also forcing a change in personnel policy in the service industries. The Director-General of Christian Cooperative Health Insurance in Belgium (Mr Christelijke Mutualiteit België), Mr Jean-Paul Corin, pointed out in his explanation that the reduction of jobs cannot always be avoided and must be the subject of clear and honest communication in which future-relevant decisions are made clear. This requires changes in which the responsibility of the employee is particularly great. Thinking in the company and with the company, taking the initiative, but with individual coaching, based on their own decisions and expectations. Rolf Weber from the Danish Christian Trade Union Confederation KRIFA talked about the role of the trade unions in changing personnel policies. This task requires a proactive union that uses technological development as a positive tool. A union that acts as a "fitness centre" rather than an "emergency room" that proactively works on education, active labour market policies and job satisfaction. Country reports from Slovenia, Poland and Lithuania addressed specific employment problems in the three countries, namely: brain drain, lack of training policy, lack of social dialogue, etc.
Both companies and employees are facing major challenges. They are not only confronted with the changes of the technological revolution, but also with other changes. There have been such radical changes many times in history. But the developments are now much faster and the waves of change follow each other at an ever faster pace. The challenge for companies lies in developing a new corporate culture characterized by openness, honest communication and coordination. The commitment of employees to the company becomes an important issue. Training, lifelong learning and coaching tailored to the needs of workers should be a high priority. It would be inappropriate to deport responsibility to companies. The new employee must be aware of their own responsibility and work on their own role in the company. He must be prepared to grow with the company, to consider training as a necessity. Public authorities should provide an appropriate framework for both workers and employers to support training and education support, and legislators should ensure labour legislation that focuses on social security and enables effective social dialogue. A forward-looking social dialogue calls for proactive and non-reactive unions, who think along with changing companies and workers, so that the interests of workers can really be defended. The task of the unions is to raise awareness among their members and to inform them correctly.