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Crossing borders in the comprehensive investigation of labour market matching processes: An EU-wide, trans-disciplinary, multilevel and science-practice-bridging training network

Final Report Summary - EDUWORKS (Crossing borders in the comprehensive investigation of labour market matching processes: An EU-wide, trans-disciplinary, multilevel and science-practice-bridging training network)

The objective of EDUWORKS was to train talented early-stage researchers in the socioeconomic and psychological dynamics of the labour supply and demand matching processes at aggregated and disaggregated levels. Understanding how the matching process works can prevent mismatches with respect to skills and qualifications, and can lead to an improved balance between the supply of and demand for labour.

EDUWORKS brought together researchers from several academic disciplines, namely: Labour Economics, Sociology of Occupations, Human Resource Management, Lifelong Learning and Knowledge Management. Specifically, EDUWORKS focused on matching processes at three levels and on one overarching topic:
• Individual level fit between job demands - persons’ abilities
• Meso-level employers’ demands for occupational skills versus occupational dynamics
• European and national level labour supply and demand matches and mismatches
• Knowledge Management/Data science for opening up bigger datasets to facilitate supply and demand matches in education and on the labour market.

During the work of the last four years, EDUWORKS researchers contributed to four important academic discussions:

1, Changing Nature of Jobs
Technological advancement has long been part of economic growth. However, the 21st century is being defined by disruptive technology that will alter the very way we work. Importantly, we want to know how the job market will change as different tasks are replaced by ever smarter machines. A major issue for future societies is the definition of work itself, as tasks undertaken change in response to technological innovation. One thing is already apparent, workers in the 21st century need to be more flexible and adaptable than generations before them.
Innovation in technology is increasingly disrupting the labour market, however our research found that other factors, including migration patterns and changes to education systems, are also having significant effects, making the problem more complex. Through our research, we identified the benefits of analyzing the tasks and skills people perform with increasing detail. Microdata at the individual level, is an exciting new contribution to labour economics. Our hope is that in the future, microdata will help us better match jobs more efficiently, and even estimate labour market needs in real time.

2, Migration and Refugee Labour Market Integration
The Post 2014 refugee crisis put migration in the spotlight. It is known that employment is a key prerequisite for the successful integration of migrants. However, little is known about the pathways migrants undergo to employment nor the barriers they encounter in this process. To investigate this problem, EDUWORKS fellows collected survey data from refugees residing in the Netherlands and in Greece. We concluded that people need to be more adaptable for career transitions, and proactive in managing their career development. In this context, the issue of self employment of migrants came to the forefront. In particular, how policies influence migrants’ propensity to become self employed. Many countries are turning to migrant self-employment as a means for social integration and job creation. However, incentives may not be effective if policies make it difficult to establish a business.
One of the major consequences of our research is shifting the focus from migrant characteristics, to a more productive conversation about opportunities and constraints that exist in the broader socio-economic environment.

3, Lifelong Learning & Technology
In a rapidly developing labour market, lifelong learning is important to meet the changing demands of our jobs. To this end, mobile learning, social media, and learning analytics are playing an increasingly important role in accessing learning and job opportunities. The new generations of learners need new learning technologies to capture the knowledge and skills required to guide them in the job seeking process.
We investigated the effect of physically contextualizing learning and found that physically contextualized learning is not necessarily superior to decontextualized learning. We also examined how employers are using social media as recruitment screening tools and how job seekers are using it to display their skills.
Researchers found the importance of the exploring knowledge networks to support the individual learning process. Using self-organising maps, machine learning, and visualization techniques, we could extract meaningful information from multi-dimensional data, providing new insights into the learning environment.

4, Vacancy Mining and Analysis
With most jobs now advertised online, job vacancies are creating massive data sets. However, transforming this data into meaningful information and actionable insights is a difficult task. At a detailed level, we wanted to know how the demand for work and the content of jobs are changing over time. EDUWORKS collaborated with Textkernel, Monsterboard, and USG people from industry, and with the WageIndicator foundation to find an answer. Analyzing vacancies requires multidisciplinary skillsets, linking the fields of economics, human resource management and data science.

One of the important conclusions from our research was the understanding how economic trends can be explained using detailed vacancy data, providing a degree of clarity to economic models, which has never been seen before. We also found that it is possible to understand skills beyond just proxies such as educational attainment, by looking at specific skills in real time using web data. From a technical perspective, job vacancy data enabled us to develop machine learning algorithms to extract detailed knowledge about the job matching process.

As part of the project, three EDUWORKS summer schools and an EDUWORKS winter school were organised, providing fellows with a total of 18 courses on transversal skills. Altogether, the fellows completed 195 courses on research specific skills and organised 16 research webinars. The transversal skills training programme received very positive feedback both from EDUWORKS fellows and external partners, such as the Marie Curie Alumni Association. SInce there is a huge interest for this type of training, the consortium decided to valorize this activity after the lifetime of the project, under the name Transkills (see www.transkills.eu).

EDUWORKS consortium members presented their work more than 190 times in various academic or practice oriented conferences and events. Our research activities attracted over 22 researchers from outside of the EDUWORKS consortium, who actively participated and added value to the EDUWORKS research agenda. These researchers are working on common studies (as shown in the various abstracts), establishing lasting research collaboration with EDUWORKS fellows. Furthermore, contacts have been established with 15 other national and European research projects that shared EDUWORKS’s objectives.

11 Associate partners and 32 key stakeholders provided further resources through research, data, training, and industry involvement, which contributed to the quality of the network and ensured the applied relevance of EDUWORKS activities. Together with our partners, we organized 3 international conferences, 16 international workshops and 3 hackathons. Consortium members spread the EDUWORKS message in 13 professional research and professional communities as well, including EAPRIL, EDEN, the Academy of Management, the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, the HRM Network, the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, SoLAR, Wageindicator, Ingrid and the Webdatanet network. To find out more about EDUWORKS and our plans to continue the network into the future, visit our website: http://www.eduworks-network.eu/