The newest episode of Cedefop’s podcast about the future of work presents an interview with the Nobel laureate in economics, Sir Christopher Pissarides.

The interview focuses on new technologies and innovations and their impact on the labour market. According to the podcast’s guest, the digital revolution means faster access to information and innovations, as exemplified by the COVID-19 vaccine, which would not have been developed in such a short time if not for new technologies. The expert compares the current changes in technology to the 19th century revolution associated with the literacy of societies.

The renown economist emphasises the key role of education in shaping basic digital skills, which children should acquire at very early stages of education. These skills should be developed throughout the course of education, including in higher education and after graduation in the work place. In addition, the core curricula, teaching programmes and methods should be flexibly adapted to the needs of modern societies.

According to Sir Pissarides, the technological revolution, including automation, will not replace occupations, but only tasks within them, especially repeatable and monotonous ones. Nevertheless, this change will involve the need for constant skills upgrading and lifelong learning.

The labour market is and will continue to be heavily influenced by demographics, including the declining number of young people and their increasing education. This will result in growing problems with filling job positions, especially those that do not require high-level skills. Sir Pissarides’ research findings indicate that a good quality job should provide autonomy and engage workers in designing their work tasks and further development. This will encourage the employee to think about the company and act for its development. Additionally, future workplaces should offer learning opportunities, be flexible in enabling the achievement of work and life balance, and promote diversity and solidarity in the company’s community.

New technologies are also causing an increase in inequality, not only globally, but also within companies themselves. Past experience shows that companies or markets on their own are not able to close the gaps caused by the digital revolution, requiring state intervention in this area. Unfortunately, trust in governments is presently at a low level, which significantly hinders the regulatory function of the state. Despite the above difficulties, the podcast’s interviewee is optimistic about the current technological revolution, which he believes will positively affect the labour market. The workplaces of the future will be more interesting and support the comprehensive professional development of employees. In addition, employees will have more leisure time at their disposal.

The podcast is available at Cedefop’s website.