Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Technological Change and Formal Further Education – Does automation risk influence aspirations and plans to pursue a new educational certificate in Germany?

WZB Talk by Martin Ehlert

Martin Ehlert is Head of the WZB Research Group National Educational Panel Study: Vocational Training and Lifelong Learning.

Many workers will need retraining in the near future due to recent technological developments. New digital technologies may take over single job tasks or even whole occupations. Consequently, the affected workers need new skills later in life to remain employable. In Germany, especially formal further education may be important to help workers move from declining to emerging fields because employers value formal certificates. However, only few adults currently engage in formal education after entering the labor market. This paper aims to explore whether German workers react to the challenges of digitalization by aspiring formal retraining. I analyze if the automation risk in the present occupation influences wishes and plans to enter formal further education. The analyses are based on data from the German National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) matched with data about occupation specific automation risks from the German Institute for Employment Research (IAB). Preliminary results show that about 30% of employed adults report the wish to pursue a new certificate. This share is significantly higher among employees with high automation risk. However, the same individuals report even lower actual plans for further education than workers with low automation risk. This large mismatch between wishes and plans among workers affected by technological change suggest that there are significant barriers towards further education for those who need it most.


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