The global workforce is being urged to constantly reskill, as technological change favours particular new skills while making others redundant. But which skills are most marketable and have a sustainable demand?

This Digit Innovation Fund project develops a model for skill evaluation that attaches a premium to a skill based on near real-time online labour market data.

It demonstrates that the value of a specific skill is strongly determined by complementarity – that is with how many other high-value skills a competency can be combined. We introduce the idea of “hub skills”, i.e., the high-return skills that can be recombined with valuable complements, to the field of human capital formation. Specifically, we show that the value of a skill depends on the capacities it is combined with. For most skills, their value is highest when used in combination with skills of the same type.

Furthermore, we contrast our skill premia with automation probabilities and find that some skills are very susceptible to automation despite their high economic value. The model and metrics of our work can inform digital re-skilling to reduce labour market mismatches. In cooperation with online platforms and education providers, researchers and policy makers should consider using this blueprint to provide learners with personalised skill recommendations that complement their existing capacities and fit their occupational background.

Research questions

  1. Do skill compositions explain changes in job conditions, such as wages and career prospects?
  2. If skill compositions determine job conditions, which reskilling recommendations could be derived from this finding for the creative industry?

Method

Secondary analysis of data on remote freelancers in the creative industry, gathered between 2013 and 2021 via the ERC-funded iLabour Project with the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford.

Researchers

Principal Investigator: Dr Fabian Stephany (Oxford Internet Institute)

Co-investigator: Professor Vili Lehdonvirta (Oxford Internet Institute)

Further Reading

Project’s webpage

Research outputs

What is the price of a skill? The value of complementarity

Fabian Stephany and Ole Teutloff (2023), Research Policy

Which skills are the skills of the future? That might depend on you!

Fabian Stephany on why the value of learning a new skill is relative, as it depends on what we already know.