This report focuses on the growing gap between the traditional understanding of the labour market and its relationship to technology. New technologies are filtering down into all sectors of the economy, the result being that jobs that were once considered menial now require a set of complex digital skills.
Menial No More paints a picture of a new blended workforce ̶ one requiring essential literacy and digital skills for all.
“The fundamental shift in our labour market has created two challenges regarding job skills demand and job skills supply,” the authors say. “Skills-biased technological change has fundamentally altered our labour market to favour skilled workers over those who are perceived as unskilled. Coupled with the ever-increasing demand for productivity growth, we will require responsive and flexible skill-building initiatives to keep pace with the changing needs of the economy. Quite simply, we require higher digital and technical skills for almost every job. The direct result of companies keeping pace with technological advancements has meant that positions previously requiring low skills now demand solid digital skills: the ability to access, use and interpret digital information in the workplace.”
The report goes on to say that we in the field and government policy-makers may need to expand our vision of what constitutes literacy and essential skills. The authors call for more emphasis on essential skills and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), in combination with vocational training. In addition, industry groups, they say, must find new approaches to defining skills ̶ approaches that allow workers to demonstrate the skills they have learned through formal education or on the job.
Lesley Brown, executive director of OLC, says this paper focuses on a different demographic.
“Recent discussions about the problems facing our labour market have focused on the problem of university and college graduates finding themselves in ‘entry-level’ or ‘low-skilled’ employment,” she said. “This is an important discussion but we are only looking at part of the equation: perhaps the jobs we routinely classify as requiring low educational attainment now require a far greater range of skills and abilities.”