Which drivers of change will affect their skills?
Legal, social and cultural professionals and associate professionals perform a number of relatively distinct jobs, which will be affected in very different ways by drivers of change in the economy. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify patterns of change affecting this group of occupations.
Technology advancements will affect the content of jobs in this occupational group. For example, algorithms are increasingly substituting for tasks performed by paralegals, contract and patent lawyers. Law firms make use of systems that can scan thousands of legal briefs and precedents to perform document review and to assist in pre-trial research 4
. However, automation is not only affecting jobs with high routine rate, but “blue-collar” ones as wells, such as lawyers 5
Disruptive Innovations in Legal Services 6
Despite traditional resistance to change in legal professions, pro-competitive “disruptive” innovations are beginning to transform legal services and the manner in which they are delivered. Online service delivery is allowing both legal professionals and unlicensed providers to serve clients remotely while taking advantage of the scalability of digital platforms. In addition, ranking and review information regarding legal professionals is becoming increasingly accessible, and is allowing clients to assess the quality of professionals before retaining them – a previously difficult proposition. Furthermore, the unbundling of services, partially driven by increasing client awareness and fee pressure, is transforming the distribution of tasks in legal services and ending traditional “black box” models of service delivery. As a result, standardised activities are being outsourced to low-cost providers (including unlicensed ones), and new billing models are being introduced. Finally, automation is changing the nature, and volume, of tasks that legal professionals perform. Although the extent to which the work of legal professions can be automated is subject to debate, automated systems have been introduced which offer new capabilities and, in at least some instances, improved performance relative to legal professionals.
Similarly, technological developments affect jobs of those involved in storing and retrieving information (like librarians and archivists), requiring them to have new ICT skills. Digitalization also affects jobs related to audiovisual production which leads to an ever-increasing demand for related skills 7
; as well as fitness and recreation instructors. The fitness sector in Europe is growing very fast 8
. Together with expected further growth of demand of fitness instructors, the digitalization and ICT is a very strong driver of change 9
, as it offers new ways of fitness services delivery.
Many jobs in this occupation are dependent on public financing, not just in public services sectors, but in arts and entertainment as well. As public budgets will continue to be strained, the demand for professional and associate professionals involved in the delivery of public services (e.g. social workers) or in roles which are dependent upon public funding (e.g. creative and performing artists) will be affected. Greater cost-effectiveness 10
may negatively impact employment prospects for this occupation, especially at associate professional level.
For persons employed in the arts and entertainment industry, the challenge of insufficient funding and high competition lead to more precarious job options; in turn, people working in this industry are forced to adopt the ‘multi-activity’ model: seek multiple jobs in the same or other sectors. In terms of skills, such employment models demand non-technical skills, such as self-management 11
Many jobs in this occupation are related to analytical and research work in social science and also to writing books and/or contributing to newspapers and the media. Here the ICT skills will be once again of ever-increasing importance, because of growing volume of data and information available online. However with this the challenge of valuing quality and relevance of such information arises. The skills related to critical and analytical thinking will be demanded even more.
Demographic change and the ageing population in the EU will create an increased demand for social care professionals and associate professionals. But these jobs are likely to change in response to both a need to gain efficiencies resulting from pressures on public expenditure, and also from improvements in service delivery. For example, there is a trend for more care to be delivered in the home by teams of different types of care professionals; working in inter-disciplinary teams will require skills related to a variety of medical, caring and IT disciplines (e.g. where medical devices are in the home and monitored remotely) 12
Globalisation creates a range of impacts, such as a demand for international legal professionals who are engaged in cross-border legal cases and who therefore need a second or third foreign language capacity. In a more inter-connected world, journalists may be increasingly working on cross-border issues with their counterparts in other countries, and librarians / archivists will increasingly need to access data held abroad.
Environmental regulation has the impact of creating new fields of regulation that lawyers and paralegals need to be able to master, but also creates a demand for skills that will allow people in this occupation to reduce their carbon footprint.
Risk of Automation: As a part of its Digitalisation and future of work project
, Cedefop estimates the risks of automation
for occupations. The most exposed occupations are those with significant share of tasks that can be automated – operation of specialised technical equipment, routine or non-autonomous tasks – and those with a small reliance on communication, collaboration, critical thinking and customer-serving skills. The risk of automation is further accentuated in occupations where employees report little access to professional training that could help them to cope with labour market changes. Legal, social and cultural professionals and associate professionals are reportedly an occupation with very low risk of automation.