In an increasing rate, industrial countries in Europe are being confronted with inexorable changes to their labour markets. At the same time, Europe’s declared goal of becoming completely climate neutral by 2050 is posing even further challenges that bear varying degrees of difficulty depending on existing economic structures. The structural changes that are required to sufficiently reduce CO2 emissions in Europe will also lead to a loss of jobs in some sectors and an increasing demand for labour in others.
In view of these kinds of labour market challenges, many European countries are becoming increasingly aware of the need for further education and training. The tasks here are complex and varied. Companies are having to train their employees on the job in the use of new technologies at evershorter intervals. Furthermore, many people already in paid work want or need to reorientate their professional perspectives to another sector altogether. With an intended change of vocation, people already in paid employment can hardly count on the support of their current employer, for example, when it comes to continuing their education while remaining in employment. This means that they will have to rely on state financial support if they reduce or interrupt their employment for the necessary further education and training. For many labour market participants this will mean that periods of secured paid work with one employer will more frequently alternate with periods of self-employment, or temporary unemployment.
Thus is an acute need for further education and training for those both in employment as well as for the unemployed. For a more future-oriented system there is not only the task of providing opportunities for those with sufficient secured employment from one employer, but also of providing tailor-made educational opportunities for those in different circumstances such as the self-employed, the marginally employed, and the low-skilled.
About the authors:
Morten Lassen is associate professor emeritus at Aalborg University. For years he was head of department at the Department of Political Science and since the 1980s Labour market Researcher with special focus on development of competencies at the manual part of the Labour Force.
MSSc Ari-Matti Näätänen finishes his PhD about welfare policy in 2022. He works as a research specialist in Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK. At the time of writing the article for this publication, he worked as a university teacher at the University of Turku.
Anna Hagen Tønder is a senior researcher and research director at Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research. Her research focuses on vocational education and training, further education, and national skill formation systems.
Prof. Dr. Martin Ehlert is the head of the research group „National Educational Panel Study“ at WZB Social Science Center Berlin and professor of sociology at Freie Universität Berlin. His work focuses on lifelong learning, digitalization and social inequality.