The development of digitization and automation is significantly changing the functioning of most economic sectors. At the same time, it sets new requirements for the skills of employees. The question of success in the process of digital transformation is the level of preparedness of all of us – businesses, households and the state. The current challenges that Slovakia faces in this area and the possibilities of deepening closer cooperation between the government and social partners were the subject of today’s interactive workshop of the Republic of Employers’ Union (RÚZ).

The majority of Slovak employers and employees in the food and trade sectors are not afraid of the massive loss of jobs in connection with the digital transformation – this follows from the analysis prepared by RÚZ as part of a European projectWorkTransitionCEE (WTCEE). More than 60 domestic enterprises and almost 2,000 employees from various job positions within it answered a set of questions in order to identify the risks, challenges and opportunities of digitization. “The results confirm that these segments are relatively stable – the vast majority of employers and employees perceive digitization as an opportunity, not as a threat,” explains Michal Mešťan, Vice-Dean for Development of the Faculty of Economics of Matej Bel University and co-author of the study. However, employers admit the possibility of changes, especially in the food industry. “Employees’ work roles may change in the store, but a change in structure is generally not expected. Due to the impact of digitization and automation, we expect even more intense time savings in the work activities of employees,”continues the expert of the Slovak Alliance of Modern Trade (SAMO) Marcel Blaščák.

The study also showed that employers in both sectors consider digital skills to be important, especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, which has significantly accelerated the implementation of new technologies and automation of processes. ” It is also positive that up to 90% of employers in the business sector said that their employees are interested in further education in the field of ICT,” adds Barbora Mazúrová from the Matej Bela University and co-author of the study. Employees also expect that in the near future employers will require more flexibility, time management, active listening and learning, foresight, and complex problem solving.”In this area, we have been warning the government for a long time that Slovakia needs a comprehensive system of lifelong education. Currently, only about 3.5 percent of adults are involved in it in our country, which is pitifully low, and the Slovak economy is the most threatened by automation, which requires a change in the skills of a significant part of the workforce. The average of European countries is 12%, and the union’s requirement is that countries reach up to 35% by 2030,” emphasizes the 1st Vice President of RÚZ, Mário Lelovský.

However, it is still true that in the field of digitization, Slovakia has been pulling the “short end” for a long time – in the Business Digitization Index and the level of digital adoption, our country still lags behind not only Denmark and the Netherlands, but even neighboring Hungary and the Czech Republic. The poor structure of the Slovak economy, the weak development of research and development or the low level of digitization of the public sector are some of the attributes, as a result of which Slovakia’s level of digitalization development is below the average of the countries of the European Union (EU).”The future brings new technologies, changes in work procedures and places new demands on the abilities and skills of employees – cooperation in promoting the involvement of employees in lifelong learning and open communication between social partners is thus more important than ever before. We are all the more pleased to participate in projects that bring concrete solutions that benefit the entire company. We firmly believe that the government will be our partner in this area,” concludes the president of the Independent Christian Union of Slovakia (NKOS), Ľubica Černá.