Skills Challenges Polarised by Digitalisation?

Austrian policy-makers start out from the premise that technical progress in general and digitalisation in particular call for ever higher skills levels. The polarisation thesis and its empirical implementation by the OECD question this premise, expounding that both higher and lower skills are at a premium while medium skills are increasingly less in demand. A more detailed investigation shows that the polarisation thesis as such can explain only partial aspects of the labour market development. Nevertheless, more in-depth empirical works have found evidence for some polarisation in the USA but little for Europe and none for Austria. Here the demand is for ever higher skills, although when it comes to medium skills, a substantial shift can be found from manual to cognitive activities. In addition to boosting skill levels, policy-makers will thus need not to lose sight of reskilling.