2018 Commission's review confirms positive trends but highlights challenges, in particular linked to automation and digitalisation
Today, the Commission has published the 2018 edition of its yearly Employment and Social Developments in Europe (ESDE) review.
This year's edition confirms the ongoing positive labour market trends as well as an improving social situation. The numbers of people in employment reached new record levels. With almost 238 million people having a job, employment has never been higher in the EU. In 2017 over three and a half million more people were in employment, compared with 2016. However, while the number of hours worked per person employed has grown in recent years, they are still below the 2008 levels. At the same time we witness rising disposable incomes and lower levels of poverty. Severe material deprivation has receded to an all-time low, with 16.1 million fewer people affected, compared with 2012. But looking at the impact of technological developments, there are uncertainties about the future effects of automation and digitalisation.
As outlined in the review, technological progress is key to increasing overall productivity. But it is also replacing low-skill routine tasks and raising the skill threshold of employability: While there is no definite conclusion regarding the possible extent of technology's impact on jobs, studies show that repetitive routine tasks involved in current jobs are the most prone to full or partial automation; according to a study 37% to 69% of jobs could be partly automated in the near future. Better education and life-long learning as well as ensuring that our labour market and social protection institutions are fit for purpose are key to adapt to this changing world of work.
Finally, the 2018 ESDE review also points to certain remaining structural challenges, for instance in the area of inequality, such as income and gender inequality, as well as skills development and education.
There are many examples in which the Commission focuses on addressing the challenges raised in the yearly ESDE reports. For instance, the Commission's recent proposal for the Multiannual Financial Framework earmarks more funds for investments into people, including through the new European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) and an improved European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). Initiatives and tools such as the Skills Agenda for Europe, the Youth Guarantee and Youth Employment Initiative, the further strengthening of the Erasmus programme, and the European Solidarity Corps will all contribute to pursuing these goals, as well as the Commission's proposals on access to social protectionand transparent and predictable working conditions.