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When Does it Pay Off to Learn a New Skill? Revealing the Complementary Benefits of Cross-Skilling

With Dr Fabian Stephany
15 Feb 2021
With Dr Fabian Stephany

The talk is motivated by the global challenge of rapidly changing skill requirements for the working population due to task automation, resulting in the paradoxical situation of simultaneous unemployment and labour shortage. This skill gap widens further as technological and social transformation outpaces national education systems and often precise skill requirements for mastering emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), remain opaque. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has tightened company budgets, forced employees to work remotely, and facilitated the global need for agile reskilling. Online labour platforms could help us to tackle this grand challenge. Websites like UpWork build a globally integrated market that mediates between millions of buyers and sellers of remotely deliverable cognitive work. The data from online labour platforms allow us to overcome re-skilling limitations by assessing the economic benefit of learning a new skill and sketching valuable and individual training pathways. Furthermore, the empirical relationship of digital skill sets can help to establish a common taxonomy to be used by policy makers, education providers, and recruiters, so that job market mismatches can be reduced.

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