Labour-market disruption and the future of work in the "No Collar Economy": policy challenges for social protection and skills training in the EU

From September 20 to 22, 2019, a seminar was held in Seville, Spain, on "Labour-market disruption and the future of work in the "No Collar Economy": policy challenges for social protection and skills training in the EU", organized by CEAT (Centro Español para Asuntos de Los Trabajadores), with the support of EZA and the European Union.

The seminar was attended by representatives of workers' organizations from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova (as guests), the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The opening session began with welcome words from CEAT President David Cervera and EZA Honorary President Bartho Pronk, who welcomed the participants and presented the objectives of the seminar, elements of the broader path of digital transformation, the challenges of labour market breaches, and the future of work emerging in the no-collar economy.

Speakers include MEP Pablo Arias, who explained the guidelines and decisions adopted by the EU on digitization as a transversal process. His talk was based on concrete examples and situations in which new technologies play a role, e.g. Working tools. His presentation ended by explaining that the digitization process must be quick and easy to achieve, that synergies work for the sake of quality of work, reconciliation of work and family life, and that they are consistent with competitiveness and mobility.

Other presentations dealt with the fields of activity of present and future workers, as well as with the dynamic role of innovation. This question was presented with straightforward and everyday examples.

Participants had the opportunity to get to know and analyse new forms of job opportunities that affect all workers - but more young people - to get the first job. The market is changing. It needs not only workers with knowledge but also skills and competencies to respond to future demand, as it said in a lecture: 6 out of 10 workers with a permanent job would have to work in the next job change in a new position. The digital economy can create many job opportunities, so workers need to be aware that they need to adapt to market and industry demand throughout their lives.

Key topics included digitization in the workplace, competitiveness, mobility, adapting workers to new situations throughout their working lives, labour market integration and education systems.

Results of the discussions

As a result of the presentations, the contributions of the participants and the round tables, ten decisions were taken:

1. The changes in the labour market must be considered as opportunities, both for workers and businesses, entrepreneurs and social actors. They must seek alternatives for creating new jobs and regulate and upgrade them to ensure safety and minimize job insecurity.

2. The impact of the digital economy as a driver of change and job creation does not reach all social sectors, which is why CEAT demands the implementation of clear and precise rules regulating the diversity of jobs so that all posts are subject to controls and taxation criteria.

3. CEAT recognizes the need to modernize the education system at all levels of education so that what students in the classroom learn is directly related to the skills and abilities they later need for integration into the productive sector. This requires the development of projects that promote the relationship between educational institutions and companies.

4. There is currently a plethora of "worker collar colours" that are gradually blurring as emerging as new niches. CEAT supports and promotes the training of workers in the fields of digitization, foreign languages ​​and innovation as well as technological capabilities as a guarantee for adapting to changes in jobs.

5. Given the job insecurity faced by new posts arising in the digital economy, CEAT advocates that the EU should establish a precise and uniform regime for all Member States of the Union.

6. The demand for highly skilled workers with technological knowledge and skills, as well as the need to maintain forms of work with more manual activities, requires that social organizations strive to adapt quickly and swiftly to ensure the employability of all groups of workers. The CEAT advocates further training in the course of working life, be it through companies, universities or social actors, as an element of the professional development of employees in companies.

7. CEAT invites traditional unions to engage in development and digital updating fully, to adapt to changes in society and business, and to become a useful tool in today's society.

8. CEAT promotes social support to workers and trade unions to meet the challenges of the digital economy and new technologies in a way that reconciles professional and private life and maintains the level of competitiveness of workers.

9. New technologies and artificial intelligence must allow us to find answers that governments and societal actors must use to create new jobs that foster jobs and guarantee the welfare state. It is imperative to respond to the demands for environmental protection and sustainability.

10. Intensify public-private cooperation as an integral part of efforts to ensure maximum employability.