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Dutch employee underestimates need for retraining due to automation

Two-thirds of the employees in the Netherlands are willing to learn technical skills to keep up with changes in their profession and thus prepare for the automation of work. But only a third are actually engaged in retraining. This is the main conclusion of a recent study by the University of Twente, Radboud University and the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) of Maastricht University. Among them were UT graduates Dr Giedo Jansen and Dr Suzanne Janssen. They shared their conclusions in a public fact sheet.

The labour market is changing as independently working machines and systems take over more and more tasks. Jobs will disappear and new jobs will be created; the content of many existing professions will change. In order to maintain job security, it is important for employees to learn new skills or undergo retraining. However, the majority of employees do not do this, according to the survey.

Most at risk, least engaged in retraining

Only a third of employees are actually engaged in retraining to prepare for the future of work. It is striking that precisely those who are most at risk of losing their job to automation, who are the least willing or engaged in retraining. "We need to use campaigns to make employees in this higher-risk group aware that their profession can easily be automated and that it is in their interest to retrain," says research leader Jansen.

Accessibility no obstacle

According to the researchers, more money and time must be made available for this awareness. Current policies are often not very effective. "Targeted HR policy should make employees aware of the possibilities, limitations and risks. Many employees wrongly believe that there is no time or money available for training," says Jansen. In most cases, access to retraining is not a major obstacle, but employees are simply not stimulated enough by their employer, or (sometimes wrongly) employees think that their profession cannot be automated.

About the Research

This study made use of the LISS panel (Longitudinal Internet Studies for the Social Sciences). The LISS panel is a representative household panel. It consists of approximately 7,000 individuals, within 5,000 households. For the study, Dutch-speaking employees in paid employment (not self-employed or jobseekers) who reside permanently in the Netherlands were investigated. Dr Giedo Jansen, Dr Suzanne Janssen (both faculty of BMS, UT), Dr Annemarie Künn-Nelen, Prof Mark Levels (both ROA, Maastricht University) and Lotte Voermans (Radboud University) published the study as a fact sheet which can be downloaded here. The data collection was funded by ODISSEI, NWO's national research infrastructure for the Dutch social sciences.

K.W. Wesselink MSc (Kees)
Science Communication Officer (available Mon-Fri)