But other economists assert that the weak growth in wages is an indicator of a new economic order in which working people are at the mercy of their employers. Unions have lost clout. Companies are relying on temporary and part-time workers while deploying robots and other forms of automation in ways that allow them to produce more without paying extra to human beings. Globalization has intensified competitive pressures, connecting factories in Asia and Latin America to customers in Europe and North America.
Jobs that require specialized, advanced skills are growing. So are low-paying, low-skill jobs. Positions in between are under perpetual threat.
Many economists see the decline [in unions] as a key to why employers can pay lower wages.
The government [Japan] has pressed companies to pay higher wages, cognizant that too much economic anxiety translates into a deficit of consumer spending, limiting paychecks for all.
But companies have mostly sat on their increased profits rather than share them with employees. Many are reluctant to take on extra costs out of a fear that the good times will not last
Union leaders [Norway], aware that companies must cut expenses or risk losing work, have reluctantly signed off on employers hiring growing numbers of temporary workers who can be dismissed with little cost or fuss.
“Shop stewards are hard pressed in the competition, and they say, ‘If we don’t use them then the other companies will win the contracts,” said Peter Vellesen, head of Oslo Bygningsarbeiderforening, a union that represents bricklayers, construction workers and painters. “If the company loses the competition, he will lose his work.”
To make it work, LeBlanc is hoping to emulate many of the things that have worked in the Rwandan programs. Students there are served lunch every day, have access to laptops and can receive mentoring, career coaching and help with English. Together with its partner on the ground, Kepler, a nonprofit university that provides education in Africa, the university offers online degree programs in business, communications and health care management.
The valued professions of the future are likely to be ones that have a “human” focus, meaning people working in mental health, drug abuse or occupational therapy, or dentists and even security forces, which the study found had less than a 0.4% chance of disappearing by 2025. For now, machines are finding it hard to replicate empathy or cooperation between people.
This year at the World Economic Forum at Davos, it was estimated that robots, AI and nanotechnology would together blitz five million jobs worldwide by 2020. They would perhaps create 2.1 million jobs for workers with knowledge of mathematics, architecture and engineering.
At the request of the European Parliament, the European Commission directly managed 18 small scale pilot projects in 7 Member States to test local partnerships for Youth Guarantee schemes (EP Preparatory Action).
The projects aimed to provide Member States with practical experience for implementing their national Youth Guarantee schemes.
The projects were launched between August and December 2013 and ran for one year in Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Given these challenges, a much more prominent role has been attributed to VET in the overall growth and jobs agenda. The contribution of VET, particularly work-based learning and apprenticeships, to fight youth unemployment, to ensure better match between training and labour market needs and to ease transitions to employment is now more widely recognised. As an indication of the urgency of reforms in this sector, a considerable number of country specific recommendations adopted within the European Semester are related to VET. The Rethinking Education Communication (2012)9 stressed the need to invest in building world-class VET systems and increase participation in work-based learning. The European Alliance for Apprenticeships, Youth Guarantee as well as the Youth employment initiative – all launched in 2013 – confirmed the crucial role of VET in increasing the employability of young people. Learning in the workplace is also an effective way to re-train and up-skill adults. Ensuring learning opportunities for all, especially disadvantaged groups, remains a major challenge, as the renewed adult learning agenda underlined. The potential of continuing VET, which can respond flexibly to short-term needs and helps improve citizens’ employability and enterprises’ competitiveness, is not yet fully used. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has identified growth and job creation as the first priority objective of the European Commission (2014-2019). Development of skills and competences of the European workforce is key to this objective, including promotion of quality VET and lifelong learning. Candidate Countries also share these aspirations.