Skills for technological change

Technological change is a key driver of change in skills needs. The supply of skills to invent, develop, apply, deploy and operate technologies, and to tailor their application to solve business, operational and government challenges, is one of the key enablers of technological change. Application of changing technologies, coupled with changes in working practices and improvements in the capabilities of businesses and the skills of their workers, drives productivity improvement and stimulates market demand.

At the same time, disruption caused by technology is affecting economy and society, accelerates the pace of change, making skills become obsolete. The skills sets required to produce a product or service change as technologies and business processes change. The benefits of technological change for employers and workers are greatest when workers have the skills needed for change. The resilience of workers in the face of economic dislocation, and the ability of local and regional economies to adapt, is also greatest when workers possess technical and transferrable skills that enable them to benefit from new jobs opportunities, reskills and upskills to meet new and growing skills demands.

The ILO’s work on skills for technological change has two main strands:

Skills for technological change and digitisation: The ILO’s work in this area focuses on changing demand for skills and how it can be supplied to the benefit of employers, workers and wider society and the economy. This work cuts across all levels from basic digital skills to high-level broader technology-related skills. It concentrates on the increasing requirement for digital and other skills as the result of the fourth industrial revolution across a wide range of occupations, and on the opportunities for digital skills development to contribute both to economic and social development and to the employability of workers and of future entrants to the labour market.
Skills Technology Foresight (STF), which is the ILO’s approach for development cooperation work in skills anticipation initiatives focuses on identifying and responding to the skills implications of technological change in technology-affected sectors. STF is designed to analyse skills needs at sector level from near to the long term future through social dialogue and direct interaction with sector stakeholders.