How does automation affect the employment rate?

OECD studyAutomation threatens every fifth job in Germany

With the all-clear, the OECD launches its "Employment Outlook 2019" on the future of work: Technological change and globalization will not lead to mass unemployment, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría made it clear to Hubertus Heil in the Federal Ministry of Labor - only to address the major challenges immediately afterwards :

14 percent of all jobs in the 36 OECD member countries - according to the OECD forecast - threaten to fall victim to automation and digitization in the next ten to fifteen years. The OECD researchers rate jobs as threatened if there is a 70 percent probability that they will be automated. Particularly affected: Employees who work in the manufacturing industry, where a lot of work can be done by machines. In this context, Germany as an industrial location is much more affected than other OECD countries: more than 18 percent of jobs in this country are threatened by automation.

Only half of the workforce is prepared for change

Although the employment rate is increasing in the OECD countries as a whole, the requirements for new jobs are increasing at the same time. According to the study, only 50 percent of employees are sufficiently qualified and prepared for this change.

Gurría refers to a well-known problem that seems to be perpetuating: Highly qualified people have better access to further training than low-skilled people, who are therefore much more at risk of being replaced by machines. The gap in continuing education between highly and low-skilled adults in Germany is the largest in the OECD. A problem that Labor Minister Hubertus Heil recognized: "We have to hurry up, especially with the low-skilled, so that we do the right thing in Germany."

Legal entitlement to further training?

In order to do the right thing, the OECD formulates strategic recommendations for action in its study. For example, it calls for the social systems to be reorganized for the economy of the 21st century and for the labor market to be regulated more closely. According to the OECD, however, more financial aid from the state is necessary in order to reduce the great gap in further training between the highly and low-skilled in Germany, said OECD Secretary General Gurría also in the direction of Labor Minister Hubertus Heil.

He referred to the Qualification Opportunities Act, which has been in force since the beginning of this year and, among other things, supports companies financially in further training measures. And at the same time admitted "that we have to take big steps within the framework of the national training strategy so that today's workers in Germany are also able to do the work of tomorrow."

Heil announced a further strengthening of public continuing education, for which he intends to propose concrete measures in the summer. In the longer term, Heil added, he could also imagine a legal right to further training.