The purpose of this collection of essays is to highlight the most likely trends in employment across Europe over the next 10 years, and to find out how experts think policymakers, firms and individuals should respond.

The industrial structure of European economies and the types of occupation that they support are changing. This change takes many forms in different national contexts, but there are some common themes. There has been an increase in service-sector employment, both in low-skilled customer service work and in high-skilled 'knowledge' occupations, and a corresponding drop in manufacturing employment. This has contributed to a 'polarisation' of the workforce in many countries, with more high-skill and low-skill jobs but fewer requiring mid-level skills. At the same time, young people are finding it increasingly hard to get a foothold in the labour market, and the proportion of the workforce employed on full-time, permanent contracts has shrunk.

Some of the changes are cyclical, the result of recession followed by a stuttering recovery. The rise in temporary work, for example, might be expected to recede when European economies are again growing strongly enough to bring unemployment down towards its pre-recession level. Other changes, however, are the result of major structural forces operating in the global economy: the rapid pace of technological innovation, globalisation and demographic change. These forces are likely to continue to cause dislocation and disruption in European labour markets for the foreseeable future. As a result, there will be a fundamental shift in the types of jobs that are available for workers and in the skills demanded by employers across Europe. Understanding the likely changes in the European labour market over the next decade is essential if policymakers and firms are to set Europe onto a path towards permanently lower unemployment through the creation of many more well-paid jobs.

The first set of essays examines the changing nature of Europe's labour market; the authors in this section analyse how globalisation and technological change in particular are likely to affect the demand for skills over the next decade. The second set of essays looks to Germany for lessons that can be taken from its past reforms. The third section focusses on the likely effects of technological change – including the march of digital technologies, automation and robots – which is generally agreed to be driving the biggest changes in labour markets, and on the most appropriate policy responses. Then, in a final essay, we present the results of a survey of over 2,500 companies across five European countries, which provide some interesting findings on the skills employees are using, polarisation on a sectoral level, and how firms are responding by increasing or cutting staff numbers.

Part 1: The changing shape of Europe's labour market

  • Terence Hogarth and Rob Wilson: The outlook for skills demand and supply in Europe
  • Jonathan Wadsworth: European labour markets in the coming decade
  • Andries de Jong and Mark ter Veer: Projecting labour productivity
  • Matthew Whittaker: What do current trends tell us about the British labour market of tomorrow?
  • Peter Glover and Hannah Hope: Preparing for tomorrow's world of work
  • Michael J Handel: Beyond the headlines: Analysing skills data over the long term

Part 2: Lessons from Germany

  • Werner Eichhorst: Flexibilisation, and how Germany's reforms succeeded
  • Michael Fischer and J??rg Bergstermann: Unpicking the German jobs miracle: Is Germany a labour market role model?
  • David Brady, Thomas Biegert and Sigurt Vitols: Continuity and change in the German labour market

Part 3: The effects of technological progress on jobs

  • Thor Berger and Carl Benedikt Frey: Bridging the skills gap
  • Steve Bainbridge: In the future, what will people do?
  • Stefana Broadbent: Collective intelligence: Questioning individualised approaches to skills development
  • Sara de la Rica: Equality of opportunity: Responding to polarisation in Europe's labour market
  • Henning Meyer: The digital revolution: How should governments respond?
  • Diane Coyle: Welcoming our robot overlords: The disruptive potential of technological progress
  • Alan Manning: Automation and equality: The challenge to progressive politics
  • Donald Storrie: Manufacturing a life of leisure

Part 4: How companies are responding to change

  • Tony Dolphin: A survey of European employers: Skills use, polarisation and workforce changes