The Covid-19 pandemic consequences, including rapid digitalization, and other tectonic shifts such as demographics and a shift towards green economy have greatly exacerbated this issue. With a quantitative limit to growth due to demographic decline, building skills to keep the pace with digitalization and wage growth is a prerequisite effort Romania must make in order to ensure further economic growth.

There is already evidence that with the transformation of the working environment due to the green and digital transformations, there is a great potential for a positive balance between jobs created and jobs lost. Only that effort a substantial effort is needed to ensure that outcome. The current context is an important starting point.

History gives us a hint: those who embrace rather than ignore the signs of change are the winners in a competitive world. Those countries that are unable to embrace the idea of progress, cling to old structures and even try to develop their economies along these lines, will be at such a competitive disadvantage that they will be left behind.

Employer confederations and trade unions from Romania, Hungary and Slovakia joined forces under the WorkTransitionCEE project to understand the impact of digitization and automation on different occupations and skills, the challenges, and opportunities for the labour market in their countries.  

Extensive research was initiated in each of the three countries in October 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, with final reports published in English and national languages in 2022.

In Hungary the study examined the situation of the Hungarian metal and automotive industry at the dawn of Industry 4.0, in Romania it analysed the impact of technology on the Automotive and the Oil and Gas sectors and in Slovakia the food and trade sectors.

With the help of the companies that joined our initiative, the research team identified a series of jobs at risk of disappearance or heavy transformation due to technology adoption. After, the research teams decomposed these lists of jobs at risk into skills.

Interviews were performed with key decision makers and line managers to better understand their plans and perspective on technology adoption and human resource management.

Questionnaires were distributed to workers performing jobs at risk of transformation or disappearance to better understand their familiarity with different technologies (IOT, automation, AI, etc), their perspective on technology adoption, their job future, skill sets importance in the future and their attitude towards upskilling, reskilling and long-life learning (LLL).

Interviews with key decision makers and line managers, together with extensive desktop research, guided the research team to identify the skill sets that will be less and less required and the ones that will significantly increase in importance in the future.

Overall, the impact of digitalization on the future of work in Romania, Hungary and Slovakia is complex and multifaceted. It creates both opportunities and challenges for workers, as they must adapt to a rapidly changing job market and acquire new skills to remain competitive.

It is important for businesses, workers, and policymakers to work together to ensure that the benefits of digitalization are shared equitably, and that workers have the support and resources they need to adapt to the changing job market.

WorkTransitionCEE, a project co-financed by the European Union, brings together social partners from Hungary, Slovakia and Romania to research how new technologies are changing the labor market in several key sectors and what we can do to prepare for the new labor market.

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