"Growing United: Upgrading Europe's Convergence Machine"


Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology



Plac Trzech Krzyży 3/5, Warsaw

The WB, MPiT & IBS seminar about technology, globalisation and labour markets in Europe. Polish launch of the World Bank report and publication of new IBS Policy Paper (Warsaw, June 25).
The seminar was organised by the World Bank, Polish Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology, and our Institute. At the beginning Christian Bodewig (The World Bank) presented the report "Growing United: Upgrading Europe's Convergence Machine" . He showed that technological change is making jobs more intensive in non-routine cognitive tasks. It is boosting opportunities for people and firms, but it is also generating growing divergence within and between European countries. He said that equalising opportunities for people and firms goes together.
Our team led by Piotr Lewandowski contributed to the report with two background papers on the changes in the task content of jobs and their impact on workers in Europe:
Poland & other CEE countries differ from Western Europe with a growing importance of routine cognitive tasks
Piotr Lewandowski (IBS) presented new IBS Policy Paper “How does technology change the nature of work? Poland vs. the EU” with in-depth analysis of the change in the nature of work in Poland. He stressed that the routine workers constitute 30% of total employment in Poland. Unlike in the more developed EU countries, the importance of routine cognitive tasks is growing in Poland. This is related to the development of the services sector which is dominated by routine cognitive tasks – Poland has become the main location for the business services sector in Europe. Although Poland is converging to the UE15 in terms of ICT capital stock and industrial robots per worker, the gap in this regard remains significant.
Deroutinisation of jobs in Poland is inevitable. Piotr Lewandowski highlighted that it would worsen the position of workers performing routine and manual tasks. The risk of unemployment in this group would go up and relative wages would fall. The objective of public policy is to prevent polarization caused by technological progress. Education policy has to put a greater emphasis on developing the skills that are necessary to perform non-routine cognitive tasks. Through training courses, social policy should offer help in acquiring new skills to workers displaced by new technologies. It should also use the tax and benefit policies to prevent the widening of income inequality.
MPiT Strategy of Productivity vs. World Bank and IBS research
Beata Lubos from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology agreed that the identified challenges are significant and will be accounted for in the Polish Strategy of Productivity which is being prepared by the Ministry. The main objective of the strategy is the sustainable economic growth taking into account the low-carbon economy and a data-driven economy. A special place will be devoted to promoting lifelong learning, increasing private investment, increasing the intensity of data and knowledge use. Aneta Piątkowska (MPiT) highlighted the importance of competitiveness of foreign labour markets, which is a challenge for the Polish labour market.
Teachers, not technology, have key significance for the development of children's skills
In the discussion with the participants of the seminar, Christian Bodewig (The World Bank) reassured that currently the technological change creates more jobs than it destroys. Piotr Lewandowski (IBS) stressed the importance of education. Poland has the highest schooling age among OECD countries, which limits the opportunities of some children with worse socio-economic background to adapt to the changes in the labour market in the future. He also stressed that teachers and teaching methods, not technology, have key significance for the development of children's skills.

In the UK children learn programming at the age of 5-6, but without computers as they are not needed – said Piotr Lewandowski. In China or the USA, the best teachers are transferred to the worst schools. As a result, the correlation of children's learnings outcomes with the income of parents in Asian countries is very low.

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