«How are occupational fields adapting to new developments?»

This report analyses the impact of various current developments, such as digitalisation, COVID-19 and climate change, on the labour market and VET in various occupational fields. On behalf of SERI, a literature study was produced and interviews with experts were carried out to assess the challenges of occupational (field) development against this background.

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In light of these wide-ranging challenges, the question is how can occupations and occupational fields be developed in future to meet the demands of the changes. The report «Occupational field development against the background of current developments and structural change» therefore explores the current range of instruments available in occupational field development. The analysis of the three trends shows that their impact is wide-ranging depending on the occupation. The labour market and education system have so far proven capable of continually meeting the demands of technological development and those presented by the COVID-19 pandemic short-term in crisis mode. However, in the case of climate change and environmental issues, it is not sufficient to rely on the flexible adaptability of the labour market and education system. Carefully devised political measures are needed. The state can also support the organisational capacity of the economy and social issues in general in new occupational fields. However, there are good reasons for collective governance of education where the collaborative partnership together with private actors and federalism play an important role. Centralised state control would not be able to respond adequately or quickly enough to the new developments whose impact differs depending on the occupational field. One way of strengthening the resilience of the education system to future crises is through the targeted promotion of innovation by the various actors in the various places of learning.

However, the different control mechanisms in VET and general education present a challenge for the coordinated development of the relevant training and continuing education in the occupational field. While the partnership-based negotiating processes of VET have proven effective, they are time-consuming and only allow for acceleration or flexibility to a limited extent. When defining educational principles, it is important to consider which provisions are required and to what degree of detail and how much autonomy the actors should be granted in terms of implementation (subsidiarity principle). Finally, great importance is attached to innovation capability in general to improve the crisis resilience of complex systems. This means innovation in occupational (field) development – in particular trialling new approaches in terms of content, methodology, technology and teaching methods at all learning locations – could be taken into account more systematically and the scope for such experiments actively promoted.