Over the past few years, the digital revolution has had a massive impact on work and the organization of work. Many people are now working digitally, although their original education and training did not prepare them for technical innovations. The digital revolution will continue to change the structure of work in future. We therefore need to support and manage these changes. The changing conditions in the world of work require constant evaluation and a forward-looking adaptation of the existing legal framework and of the funding sources of the social security system. We now need to find solutions that take account of social and economic requirements alike and that safeguard and create jobs. The potential of digitization should be identified, while at the same time the digital skills of citizens should be improved. All social groups involved in the value-added process should be able to share in the benefits of digitization.
Digitization is changing the work being carried out and the skills needed, although new technologies are generally just changing specific activities rather than entire workplaces. Skills upgrading is a trend that will take firm hold, which means that (re)training employees in the new requirements must be prioritized in vocational education and training. The aim is to help people – including those in second-chance education – to undergo further training and upgrade their skills. The high demand for continuing education and retraining in specialist skills, caused by the increasing requirements at all levels of education and training, calls for a modern framework. Labour market policy must help job seekers and working people to cope with the dynamically changing demands.
- Support online (vocational) training courses that teach digital skills as well as retraining that focuses on the specific requirements of the labour market
- Ensure skills are upgraded as a key to new competency requirements: compulsory education or training until 18 so that every young person is educated to a level higher than compulsory schooling. The Training Guarantee for young people aged up to 25, introduced in 2017, is another key measure in this area.
- Attractive second-chance training measures are being created with the reintroduction of the skilled workers’ grant (Fachkräftestipendium) from 2017, the expansion of the workplace training programme AQUA and the increased funding and support for vocational training (in particular workplace incentive programmes).
- Develop the Recognition Act enabling non-formally and informally acquired skills to be recognized
- Continue to develop career and educational guidance in order to help people plan their employment career and associated training requirements better
- Provide more information about technical education and attractive programmes to increase the proportion of women working in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields
New working models and labour market policy
Digitization facilitates new working models and forms of employment. These should lead to higher income, more efficiency and flexibility, and greater satisfaction for employees. Increasing overall employment and reducing unemployment remains the central objective. Depending on the specific type of employment, up-to-date working conditions must be in place – minimum standards under labour and social law, including collective worker participation, must also apply to new forms of employment. The legal distinction between employment and self-employment is becoming increasingly important here. It is therefore necessary to regularly evaluate the changing conditions of the labour market and to proactively expand and develop the legal framework.
Modern ICT technologies can help to increase work efficiency and to improve internal cooperation. The combination of employees’ practical knowledge and their capacity for reflection and adaptability makes it easier to implement digital processes in a sustainable and appropriate way. The high level of worker participation in Austria should remain unchanged despite new forms of employment.
Employment services are also becoming increasingly digitized and new job search platforms are being added. This also requires public labour market institutions to be adapted to ensure that a publicly controlled alternative to private providers is available.
- Respect the boundaries between private and working life
- Provide social security, including (collective) worker participation, for new forms of employment too
- Take employee data protection into consideration when implementing the European General Data Protection Regulation
- Involve the workforce in innovation and digitization processes at a sufficiently early stage
- Initiate dialogues and consultations at industry level as well as at enterprise level