Approaches to anticipating skills for the future of work

Report prepared by the ILO and OECD for the 2nd meeting of the G20 Employment Working Group (Geneva, 11 – 12 June 2018)

New technological breakthroughs along with globalisation and large demographic shifts are likely to bring about substantial changes in the skills needed for countries, firms and individuals to prosper. The Argentinian presidency puts investment in training and skills for life and work at the top of its priorities and recognises its importance for preserving inclusiveness and preparing for change. The substantial advances that have been made recently in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, the diffusion of digital technologies and the associated creation and destruction of jobs, are putting increasing pressure on the role of skill needs anticipation and forecasting. At the same time, the disruptive nature of these changes makes the task of predicting future skill needs evermore challenging. Skills supply is also evolving but takes time to adapt to emerging skill needs. The development of new training programmes, which are the main policy tools to respond to skill needs and emerging skill gaps, can take some time, particularly for programs at higher levels and of longer duration. In order to inform the education and training system far enough ahead, the systematic anticipation of skills needs is essential to enable strategic responses and prevent skill mismatch.

This paper first discusses the importance of skill needs anticipation; it then looks at the qualitative and quantitative approaches across G20 countries and addresses cross-cutting issues such as labour market information (LMI) and social dialogue; and finally identifies policy principles to help implement a strategy to anticipate skill needs and use this information to better align training with the changes occurring in the world of work.