Active Labour Market Policies for Digital Economy.Skills Development and Workforce Preparation

Abstract: Work is undergoing technological upgrading and innovation driven by digitization, the so called Fourth Industrial Revolution (Schwab 2016). The technological advancement makes possible to achieve higher levels of work and total factors productivity and to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (ILO 2016; Dodds et al. 2017). The issue is particularly sensitive, because of the coming impact of technological innovation on employment and the consequential intensified risks of social unrest (Frey, Osborne 2013). This is the reason why it is extremely relevant to equip people to stay ahead of technological change. To prepare the workforce for tomorrow, the attention has to be posed particularly on educational, training and re-skilling programs (Goldin, Katz, 2010). One problem is that — in Europe, but also elsewhere — this technological and organizational revolution is likely to be realized with an army of grey-haired workers (Kuhn, Ochsen 2009), but it must be taken into account that in a very near future workers of other age groups, adult and even young workers, will be the involved in some reskilling programs and in changing schooling processes. It is therefore appropriate to promote policies aimed at reskilling these workers and at making the young people fit for the coming digital economy. From this point of view, the permanent training will acquire an unprecedented role in the history of work. The paper is structured as follows. The first paragraph gives a short definition of the digitization process that has been taking place for some years and highlights the theoretical framework and technological areas involved in the digitization process. The second section is focused on the impact of the digital economy on the employment. The third paragraph is devoted to the skills requested by the digital economy and to measures that should be undertaken to enable the workers to stay on the labour market and to make more inclusive the workplaces. Evidences make clear that managers play a relevant role in supporting this kind of implementation process, particularly referred to the older workers, and in training and in introducing new forms of work organization (Sterns et al.1994; Maurer, Weiss, Barbeite 2003).