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Differing roles of lifelong learning: Hedging against unemployment risks from skill obsolescence or boosting upward career mobility?

Tobias Schultheiss and Uschi Backes-Gellner

No 188, Economics of Education Working Paper Series from University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW)

Abstract: This paper examines the role of lifelong learning in counteracting skill depreciation and obsolescence. We build on findings showing that different skill types have structurally different depreciation rates. We differentiate between hard and soft skills and measure the relative importance of these two skill types at the occupational level. As data source we draw on a large sample of job advertisements and a categorization of their skill requirements through a machine-learning algorithm. We analyze lifelong learning effects for "harder" occupations (with relatively more hard than soft skills) versus "softer" occupations. Our results reveal important patterns of skill depreciation and counteracting lifelong learning effects: In harder occupations, the role of lifelong learning is primarily as a hedge against unemployment risks caused by fast-depreciating hard skills; in softer occupations, this role instead lies mostly in acting as a boost to wage gains and upward career mobility as workers build on a value-stable skill foundation.

JEL-codes: I26 J24 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 46 pages
Date: 2021-11, Revised 2021-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-big, nep-cmp, nep-edu and nep-lma
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http://repec.business.uzh.ch/RePEc/iso/leadinghouse/0188_lhwpaper.pdf (application/pdf)

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