Posted tagged ‘labour market’

Understanding the labour market of the future

September 6, 2010

A significant amount of higher education policy globally is derived from certain assumptions about how the labour market will develop, and how people can be educated and trained to maximise their opportunities and improve economic prospects. In that context, an analysis published in the American newspaper The Seattle Times makes for interesting reading. The broad thrust of this is that the segment of the labour market that supplied a large proportion of jobs until recently – middle range employment in industry, services and public administration – will decline dramatically. Future job opportunities will lie mainly in highly skilled employment, or in lower wage jobs in industry and services.

There is of course a view that the education itself can influence what employment will look like, because investors will go to countries where educational attainment most nearly matches their labour needs. Ireland may want to position itself as a country with high value skills and significant educational quality, though bearing in mind that it may be risky to plan a market around supply rather than demand.

Of course the Seattle Times picture may be wrong, or may be wrong for this part of the world. But it seems appropriate that before we set new higher education participation targets we have a clear idea of what kind of jobs will be there for our graduates, and to what extent our education system addresses likely labour market trends. I’m not sure we have done that kind of analysis.