The Technology/Jobs Puzzle: A European Perspective

Blog by Pierre-Alexandre Balland, Lucía Bosoer and Andrea Renda as part of the work of the Markle Technology Policy and Research Consortium: “In recent years, the creation of “good jobs” – defined as occupations that provide a middle-class living standard, adequate benefits, sufficient economic security, personal autonomy, and career prospects (Rodrik and Sabel 2019; Rodrik and Stantcheva 2021) – has become imperative for many governments. At the same time, developments in industrial value chains and in digital technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) create important challenges for the creation of good jobs. On the one hand, future good jobs may not be found only in manufacturing, ad this requires that industrial policy increasingly looks at services. On the other hand, AI has shown the potential to automate both routine and also non-routine tasks (TTC 2022), and this poses new, important questions on what role humans will play in the industrial value chains of the future. In the report drafted for the Markle Technology Policy and Research Consortium on The Technology/Jobs Puzzle: A European Perspective, we analyze Europe’s approach to the creation of “good jobs”. By mapping Europe’s technological specialization, we estimate in which sectors good jobs are most likely to emerge, and assess the main opportunities and challenges Europe faces on the road to a resilient, sustainable and competitive future economy.The report features an important reflection on how to define job quality and, relatedly “good jobs”. From the perspective of the European Union, job quality can be defined along two distinct dimensions. First, while the internationally agreed definition is rather static (e.g. related to the current conditions of the worker), the emerging interpretation at the EU level incorporates the extent to which a given job leads to nurturing human capital, and thereby empowering workers with more skills and well-being over time. Second, job quality can be seen from a “micro” perspective, which only accounts for the condition of the individual worker; or from a more “macro” perspective, which considers whether the sector in which the job emerges is compatible with the EU’s agenda, and in particular with the twin (green and digital) transition. As a result, we argue that ideally, Europe should avoid creating “good” jobs in “bad” sectors, as well as “bad” jobs in “good” sectors. The ultimate goal is to create “good” jobs in “good” sectors….(More)”