Understanding skills demand in a changing world

Call for papers - Extended Deadline: 30 September 2019

The European Training Foundation (ETF) invites researchers, practitioners, authorities, social partners, civil society organisations, and experts that work on employment and skills issues to submit abstracts for papers for a new peer-reviewed international publication. The publication will be produced in 2020 and should address the issue of how global developments are having an impact on jobs, employment patterns and skills demand in transition and developing countries. Successful applicants may be invited to present their work at an ETF international conference on this topic planned for 2020.


The ETF is seeking, in particular, country examples with case studies, backed up with research, including data analysis, which document changes in the labour markets in transition and developing countries.[1] These might include job creation and destruction in sectors, employment shifts, emerging occupations and skills needs, and new working patterns/relations. Changes in the labour market could be analysed through empirical case studies, qualitative and/or quantitative research techniques or other interdisciplinary approaches. Examples that focus on the ETF’s partner countries are particularly welcome. Further details of specific topics can be found below.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 30 September 2019. Abstracts of around 500 words should be in English, include a preliminary title and the full names and titles of the authors. Three criteria to be used in the selection of abstracts are given at the end of this document. The ETF’s decision on the selection will be communicated by 31 October 2019 and final draft papers should be submitted by 31 March 2020.


Abstract proposals can be directly sent to the following address: ETF expert, Ummuhan Bardak is in the lead on this activity. If you have questions or need further information, please contact her via email at or by phone on +390116302222 (switchboard) or +390116302450 (direct).


The ETF launched a first debate in 2018 to identify future skills trends and needs in its partner countries.[2] The preliminary analysis, which was presented at the ETF international conference ‘Skills for the Future: Managing Transition’ in November 2018, showed the need to further document and monitor the changing skills demand and go further than macro analyses on the topic[3]. To continue to contribute to the debate, the ETF plans to produce a flagship publication on understanding skills demand in transition and developing countries against the background of significant global transformation. The publication will collect papers with evidence on the changes occurring in jobs, occupational and skills demand, and employment patterns/relations in transition and developing countries from interested authors.

We live in a rapidly changing and uncertain world, but the impacts of these changes on labour markets, jobs and skills are far from clear. Studies from advanced economies highlight the automation of routine tasks, job polarisation between low and high-skilled jobs, and rising demand for cognitive skills. Digitalisation impacts all skills levels by changing the composition of occupations; reshaping, replacing or displacing existing jobs or creating new ones. As new labour markets reward different skills sets and worker attitudes, there is a growing mismatch reported everywhere between the skills of workers and the needs of employers. Labour markets are becoming more segmented and less stable with a widening range of non-standard forms of employment.

Global transformations also impact the labour markets of transition and developing countries, but we have very little information and evidence on the direction of these changes in those parts of world. This publication is planned as one of the first steps to fill in these information gaps. Better documenting changes and skills demands of labour markets in developing countries will lead to the design of better skills development systems for the future of individuals, companies and countries.


Interested authors may propose papers which fall under one of three specific thematic areas:

1. Changing jobs, occupations and economic sectors (in transition and developing countries): Papers on job creation and job destruction trends in economic sectors, shifts in the employment share of sectors over time, changes within sub-sectors as a result of global drivers (i.e. services from low value-added jobs to high value-added jobs), employment trends in digitalised labour markets and the platform economy, risks posed by automation to human labour in certain occupations, concrete examples of emerging occupations, changing content of occupations, high-demand occupations, declining occupations, etc.

2. Changing demand for different skills sets and qualifications (in transition and developing countries): Papers on examples of skills need analyses, growing/declining demand for certain skill-sets, results of skills need analyses using traditional labour market data and anticipation tools (e.g. forecast, foresight, sectoral studies, employer surveys) and/or new and innovative methods such as Big Data and other digital technologies, analysis of ‘skills-biased’ changes such as higher demand for high-skills or job polarisation trends, skill profiles of online workers (gig economy), new skills-sets required in the platform economy and digitalised labour markets.

3. Changing employment relations and working conditions (in transition and developing countries): Papers on new types of employment that have emerged as a result of changes, such as online work, own-account workers, self-employment and entrepreneurship, diversified employment contracts (e.g. part-time work, fixed-term work, temporary work via private employment agencies, sub-contracting, remote work, on-call work, home-based work, work-share, flexible work time), empirical studies on the impact of platform economy on informality. Other examples could be blurred lines between private and working life, lack of clarity on employment status, regulation loopholes, erosion of traditional employer-employee relationship and social security benefits, new winners or losers of labour market.  

Criteria for the selection of abstracts:

1. Geographical relevance: The papers should include concrete examples from transition and developing countries. Examples that focus on the ETF’s partner countries are particularly welcome. Examples from advanced economies can be included exceptionally, but only if they are compared with examples of developing countries in the same paper.   

2. Thematic relevance and quality: The papers should document one or more changes in the labour markets, including case studies backed up with research and data analysis. Labour market changes might include shifts in sectors and jobs, emerging tasks and occupations, identified skills needs (current and future), and declining occupations, new forms and patterns of employment and evolving employment relations and working conditions, due to the impact of technological changes and other change drivers.

3. Abstract quality in terms of structure, methodology and language: The abstracts should give clear information on the content structure and research methodology to be used in the paper, and demonstrate a high level of English.



[1] Although different terms and definitions can be used regarding the development phase of countries, e.g. ‘transition countries’, ‘developing countries’ or ‘emerging economies’, the publication will focus on the countries with low middle-income and high middle-income, as well as low-income countries.  

[2] See Briefing Note Getting ready for the future prepared for the ETF international conference ‘Skills for the Future: Managing Transition’, which took place on 21‒22 November 2018 in Turin (Italy)

[3] See ETF (2019), Issues Paper on the future of work and skills in ETF Partner Countries,

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