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How Technology Changes Demands for Human Skills


  • Frank Levy

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


This paper places the competencies to be measured by the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) in the context of the technological developments which are reshaping the nature of the workplace and work in the 21st century. The largest technological force currently shaping work is the computer. Computers are faster and less expensive than people in performing some workplace tasks and much weaker than people in performing other tasks. On the basis of an understanding of the kinds of work computers do well, it is possible to describe the work that will remain for people in the future, the skills that work requires and the way that computers can assist people in performing that work. The paper argues that a technology-rich workplace requires foundational skills including numeracy and literacy (both to be tested in PIAAC), advanced problem-solving skills or Expert Thinking (similar to the construct of Problem Solving in Technology-Rich Environments to be tested in PIAAC) and advanced communication skills or Complex Communication (not being tested in PIAAC). Ce document situe les compétences qui seront mesurées dans le cadre du programme de l’OCDE pour l’évaluation internationale des compétences des adultes (PIAAC) dans le contexte des avancées technologiques qui redessinent la nature du travail et le lieu où il est effectué au 21ème siècle. La plus grande force technologique qui actuellement façonne le travail est l’ordinateur. Les ordinateurs sont plus rapides et moins onéreux que les individus dans certaines tâches sur le lieu de travail, mais bien moins performants que les personnes dans l’accomplissement d’autres tâches. Si l’on considère que l’on peut identifier les types de travaux que les ordinateurs remplissent correctement, il est alors possible de décrire ceux qui seront de la responsabilité des individus dans le futur ainsi que les compétentes que ces travaux nécessitent, et la façon dont les ordinateurs peuvent assister les individus à les accomplir. L’argument contenu dans le document est qu’un lieu de travail hautement technologique nécessite des aptitudes fondamentales telles que le calcul et la compréhension de textes (qui seront tous deux testés dans le PIAAC), des compétences avancées à résoudre des problèmes ou Expert Thinking (similaires à l’aptitude à résoudre des problèmes dans un environnement hautement technologique qui sera testée dans le PIAAC) et des compétences avancées en communication ou Complex Communication (non testées dans le PIAAC).

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Levy, 2010. "How Technology Changes Demands for Human Skills," OECD Education Working Papers 45, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:eduaab:45-en

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    Cited by:

    1. Caroline Bayart & Sandra Bertezene & David Vallat, 2013. "Les "serious games" : des leviers en faveur du knowledge management," Working Papers hal-00846779, HAL.

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