A New Progressive Era

BERLIN — 3 July 2017

Breakout session: Skills for the connected age

3rd June 2016


Will Marshall, president and founder Progressive Policy Institute.

Jenni Karjalainen, senior adviser to the Finnish Union of Professional Engineers and a former special adviser to the minster of labour.

Chair Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister of Enterprise and Innovation.

Analysis – changing nature of work:

* Across developed economies is workers are scared of losing jobs through increasing automatization of work (end-of-work panic)

* Technological change eliminates specific jobs but it doesn’t replace labour (explosion of bank machines didn’t eliminate bank clerks)

* In general, work is not disappearing but there exists a big distributional problem in the US and Europe

* The process of production is speeding up enormously (in the past the development of new products took years, nowadays it’s months)

The key questions are:

  1. What skills do we need to rebuild middle-class jobs in the US and Europe?
  2. How can progressives empower people to actively participate in labour markets?

Which skills are needed?

* General skills that allow people to change jobs more easily as era of life-long career tracks seems to be firmly over (job flexibility)

* Problem-solving skills in conjunction with higher technical skills

* Higher proficiency in coding

* Traditional vs. modern skills? Today, priority of education should be the ability to acquire new skills; jobs in the digital age are mostly linked to gathering or processing information


For progressives the message should be to focus more on people not on businesses; how can enterprises carry more responsibilities to educate workers?

In addition, progressives should make sure that active labour market policies and apprenticeship programs support people during school-work transitions and periods of changing jobs.

Open universities – offer different career paths to students and apprentices – vocational training a la Germany?

Reform educational systems (more inclusive and open, break down class structures)

Women should be encouraged to skill up on coding as they are lacking behind on this matter (according to study by Public Policy Institute)

Rapporteur: Florian Ranft