Through its Future of Work Initiative, the OECD monitors closely how labour markets are changing in response to the mega-trends of technological change, globalisation and population ageing, amongst others. The aim is to better understand the opportunities and risks associated with these developments, and provide evidence-based advice on how countries could respond in the areas of skills and employment policies, social protection, labour market regulation, taxation and social dialogue.

As highlighted in the 2019 OECD Employment Outlook on the Future of Work, while the future offers many opportunities for creating more and better jobs, transitions to these new jobs will be difficult for many workers, with a disproportionate burden borne by the more vulnerable in society. Therefore, a Transition Agenda for a Future that Works for All was put forward, setting out the measures that are needed to ensure workers can successfully make these transitions and help shape a future of work that is more inclusive and rewarding for all.

The OECD’s latest research and analysis is now exploring these trends and their consequences in greater granularity - including the impact that changes in the labour market will have on different population sub-groups. One of these groups is the low-skilled who are at particular risk of seeing their jobs automated or offshored, yet it is also a group that is least well prepared for managing the transition to new jobs. The present report is part of this new research effort as it explores the future for low-educated workers in Belgium: will there be enough jobs for them in the future and, if so, what kind of jobs? And, crucially, what can policy do to improve their labour market outcomes?

The question of what the future holds for low-educated workers has also gained in importance with the advent of the COVID-19 crisis, which has affected low-skilled workers in particular and exposed deep-seated labour market fragilities and inequalities. As policy makers think about the policy response to the crisis, they will also need to bear in mind the longer-term trends and ensure that they build back labour markets that are more inclusive and more resilient.

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