An information society is a lived reality. Thanks to technology, not only has information become more available, but so have a variety of services. Thanks to automation, the number of jobs in manufacturing declined significantly, but the share of services and work based on sophisticated technology has increased. The most important strategy for work is the ability to constantly learn something new. The overlap of private and professional life becomes stronger, blurring the boundaries between work and free time. Global migration is increasing, but it does not fully offset depopulation and population aging. Therefore, people continue working into their old age.
How will the transformation of the labor market impact the content and forms of continuing education for different age groups and levels of education? Will the system of lifelong learning be paired up successfully with the needs and interests of employers and employees? How will the changing forms of economic activity affect income and social security of the population?
For people in Slovakia, education is predominantly an entry ticket to the labor market. Up to 89% of people think that above all, education should allow a person to get employed. Two-thirds of people also think that it should allow a person to succeed in competition with others. In Slovakia, an educated person is considered to be someone who is an expert in a certain field. Hence, education should primarily result in developing expertise (78%). An expert should, however, be able to work with others within a team (78%).
More than half of people think that in 25 years, it will be important to be able to take care of oneself (51%) and also be able to pursue one’s own interests and fulfill one’s needs (47%).
People expect that life in the future will be even faster and more challenging. Therefore, they consider rapid adaptation to changes to be one of the most important skills (49%). This belief is held, in particular, by older respondents, people with higher education, and business people rather than, for example, the unemployed or students. Of the other requirements, a third of respondents identified resourcefulness in all circumstances (34%), though less often by older people and most frequently by students.
The majority of people (83%) believe that a person needs to work to be able to develop their talents and abilities. More than half think that not working automatically leads to laziness. At the same time, people are convinced (64%) that work is an obligation we have towards the society. In connection to work, the most important factor is to have good earnings (92%) and job security (64%). Over time, it has continually been important to people to have good coworkers (60%). However, compared to 20 years ago, there is a growing expectation that work needs to be interesting as well.1
In post-socialist countries, people see the call for a greater flexibility of workers as a negative. They perceive it as something required and enforced by employers, or as a negative consequence of economic and labor market developments, when there are not enough permanent full-time jobs. For people thinking along such lines, self-employment or part-time work are only last resorts. 2
Part-time work is a fitting way to maintain working habits in unemployment and a chance to engage in work while performing parental obligations. However, in Slovakia, the opportunity to work part-time is used by only 6% of women and 3% of men. The barriers to a more widespread use of part-time jobs include the economic situation of families, but also stereotypes held by employees and employers. People generally prefer traditional organization of work. Those who work the usual eight hours a day usually receive better compensation than those who are able to achieve comparable and even better results in less time.3
„The best reward for a child who grows wheat is ripe wheat.“ a workshop participant in the town of Rožňava
Although there are already a number of occupations in which working from home is convenient, this form of work is used less often in Slovakia than the average for Europe. In Slovakia, only 3.5% of employees work from home on a regular basis while a further 5% use a "home office" arrangement occasionally. The average for Europe is not much higher and fluctuates slightly above 5%. Working from home is most prevalent in the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, and Austria, by more than a tenth of the workforce. 4
People in Slovakia are aware that for the society to prosper, it is necessary to learn, expand one’s qualifications, and, if needed, to earn qualifications for a different position, increase performance at work, or change the position. However, in Slovakia, this is currently done by very few people—approximately 25% of the economically active population. Although all of these aspects are considered to be important, with education considered important by up to 75% of people, research points out people are passive in their efforts to improve their work position and status in the society. 5 The opportunity to enhance one’s knowledge and skills through courses, lectures, or conferences is used by only about a fifth of Slovak people.6
GOOD TO KNOW
The company Ernst & Young announced that it will no longer require a higher education degree from job-seekers, but will consider it more important that they demonstrate real skills in a series of specific tests. The decision came after verifying in an expert study that there is currently no relevant connection between academic success of hopeful employees and their subsequent performance at work. In the labor market, there are too many candidates with the same level of education and a diploma is no longer a fitting tool to select the best ones.7
Scientists have calculated that, as a result of automation, up to 47% of current jobs will change or disappear completely. Almost half of the various professions, from agriculture to legal services, will be replaced by machines. Economists tend to respond to this challenge, saying that new technologies will also bring about new jobs. Yet, people will need to be prepared for those through education.8
„Parents often ask me whether it is best to direct their children to science, engineering and technology, because these fields represent progress today. I tell them not to do what our parents did when they told us what to study, and, as a result, we saw education as a duty. Instead, we should encourage our children to take up hobbies and enjoy learning. It doesn't matter whether they want to be artists, musicians or plumbers, the main thing is for them to understand that learning is a lifelong endeavor, and they need to be prepared to constantly discover things anew.“ Vivek Wadhwa, a researcher and a university lecturer
The concept of unconditional basic income is based on the idea of every person receiving a payment from the state, regardless of whether they work or not. Its disadvantage is the loss of the principle of merit; its advantage is the simplification of the social system any time there is a sharp decline in jobs. Experiments with an unconditional basic income began in Utrecht and other Dutch cities. It has also been considered by Finland, when the unemployment rate began to rise sharply. 9
„We are faced with a whole new world. We cannot hope that development will continue linearly and after a boom in agriculture, industry, services and public administration, there will simply come something new. No such thing exists. Yet, job opportunities are fewer and fewer, because the whole society uses more technology and work productivity increases in the name of competitiveness and a higher standard of living. Most people are now shifting to services, but also their share slowly starts to decline. The solution is to flip the economy from the global to the local level. Digitized information and knowledge will freely move around the world, and goods and services will be produced and offered mostly locally. “ Milan Zelený, economist and a university lecturer
 Kusá, Z., Tížik, M. (eds.) (2009) Výskum európskych hodnôt 1991-1998-2008 slovenská a česká spoločnosť. Bratislava: Sociologický ústav SAV.
 Ľapinová, E. (2014) Využívanie flexibilných foriem práce na Slovensku podľa údajov z výberového zisťovania pracovných síl. Banská Bystrica: UMB. Dostupné ako pdf.
 Priemerný nezamestnaný Slovák je bez práce 950 dní. Sú na tom ostatné krajiny lepšie? In Európske noviny, 29.2.2014. Dostupné na http://europskenoviny.sk
 European Commission (2014) Flash Eurobarometer 398: Working conditions. Dostupné ako pdf.
 Bunčák, J. et al. (2009) Názory občanov na budúcnosť Slovenska. Bratislava: Ekonomický ústav SAV.
 Výrost J. et al. (2013) Európska sociálna sonda. 6. kolo na Slovensku. Košice: Universum.
 Chovanculiak, R. (2015) Prečo Ernst & Young nezaujíma váš diplom? O ničom už nevypovedá. In Denník N, 13.10.2015. Dostupné na https://dennikn.sk.
Community Research and Development Service Centre (2015) Overcoming youth unemployment in Europe. Dostupné na: http://cordis.europa.eu
 Frey, C. B., Osborne, M. A. (2013) The Future of Employment. How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Oxford: University of Oxford. Dostupné ako pdf.
Tvardzík, J. (2015) Zástanca základného príjmu: Na dôstojný život by ľuďom malo stačiť 370 eur, In Trend, 28.5.2015. Dostupné na http://www.etrend.sk