Problem-solving skills, skills needs and participation in lifelong learning in technology-intensive work in the Nordic countries Tarja Tikkanen
Summary: The article investigates the effects of technology-intensive work on participation in lifelong learning, job-skills, skills needs and problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments. Technology development and its consequences are the driving force behind most of the changes in jobs and at workplaces and, thus, behind continuous learning and skills development throughout people’s careers. The following four hypotheses were tested: Those in technology-intensive work (H1) have higher technology-related problem-solving skills, in all age groups; (H2) participate more in job-related learning and training, in all age groups; (H3) have (therefore) fewer general, job-related skills needs, in all age groups; and (H4) have fewer ICT-specific learning needs, in all age groups, than those in non-technology-intensive work. The hypotheses testing was adjusted for gender and educational background. The study draws from data from the OECD’s Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC). PIAAC is ground-breaking in the sense that it assessed problem-solving skills in technology-rich environments for the first time ever on a large scale and as a single dimension. The study is limited to those aged 40–65 years, currently working, in the four Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The findings confirmed the first and the second hypothesis but not the third and fourth. The implications of the findings are discussed in regard to theory and practice in job-related lifelong learning.