The central idea of the research is to comprehensively assess the role of competencies – their acquisition, maintenance, development and renewal – in enhancing successful labour market transition, as well as stabilized employment and re-entry after non-employment in times of profound occupational restructuring. Our research is guided by a common framework which, in addition to family/home, includes two main institutions – the education system and the labour market – and the trajectories of subsequent age groups from home via the education system into the labour market and working life. The focal point is on the success and failure of social mechanisms governing, affecting and mediating the various transitions of individuals.
There is ample research documenting that technological change and offshoring is reshaping occupational structures while the competence-related consequences of this evolution are not well understood. Occupational restructuring will have consequences for the school choices, educational qualifications and ICT skill requirement of young people heading for working life. There are considerable gaps in our knowledge on the role of lifelong learning for skill acquisition and renewal inside and outside working life. This holds true for general adult education as well as for active labour market policies. Moreover, while there is growing evidence that ill health may cause exit from paid employment through work disability, early retirement and unemployment, little is known about the effectiveness of vocational rehabilitation. Neither do we know how the already vulnerable labour market situation of immigrants is affected by occupational restructuring. All these aspects highlight the policy relevance of our research.
The societal impact of our research relies on producing policy-relevant empirical evidence on how occupational restructuring challenges present and future skill requirements in working life. A key task will be to collaborate with key stakeholders to ensure that the actors in charge of reshaping Finnish working life are provided with accessible and accurate evidence, including concrete solutions, for decisionmaking. Our key stakeholders are the three most relevant ministries for our research (Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health), the National Board of Education (responsible for the implementation of youth and adult education) and social partners.
The project consortium consists of Etla, RUSE and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The project is funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland.