Fabo, B. (2017). Towards an understanding of job matching using web data Tilburg: CentER, Center for Economic Research

Fabo, B. (2017). Towards an understanding of job matching using web data Tilburg: CentER, Center for Economic Research

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ABSTRACT

There is a lot that we do not know (but need to know) about how matching on the labour market works, which data can show us. At the same time, the sole purpose of collecting data is to learn more about the world and potentially take action to make it a better place by addressing pressing challenges that hinder societal progress, in our case by ensuring that workers are equipped with the skills they need on the job market. Labour market matching is one of the most salient challenges in terms of research as well as policy. This is particularly true in Europe, where the issue of equipping workers with right skills for employment has been considered an important policy priority for quite some time (CEDEFOP 2014, 2015). This policy discourse reflects the important debate about the “future of work” in the literature, with Tyler Coven’s Average Is Over, being perhaps the most well-known example. According to Coven, “Quality labor with unique skills” (Cowen 2013) is one of three crucial resources needed in the modern economy, where an increasing number of tasks traditionally performed by humans will be conducted by robots. 1 American statistician (1900 – 1993). Cited from presentation of director DG ESTAT Emanuele Baldacci on Big Data (Baldacci 2016) 2 American economist, University of California, Santa Barbara. Quote from his IZA World of Labour piece, Internet as a labor market matchmaker (Kuhn 2014). 2 The debates outlined above cannot be separated from the rise of the Internet phenomenon. The Internet changed the way how the hiring process is organized, how the work itself looks like and allowed us to collect immense volumes of very detailed data on nearly any aspect of human life including work. Given these developments, it comes as no surprise that the push for an understanding of the role of skills on the labour market, going beyond the limitations of the canonical models such as Beveridge curve, is rising fueled by the new reality on the labour market and the unprecedented access to innovative data sources. At the same time, while it is widely accepted that changes are afoot, we are still quite unsure how deep are they. Is the fact that web is becoming so crucial in labour market matching – up to the point of work being organized online through online platforms – going to improve the labour market matching? Do the robots and artificial intelligence increasingly present at the workplace alongside humans represent just a “tactical mutation” or something more fundamental with regards to how society is organized. Are the “big” web data the future of research. These are important complex puzzles, which can not all be answered in depth within a thesis. Being aware of the limitation outlined above, the thesis aims for a pragmatic approach through making steady advances exploring the methodological issues but also showcasing the potential of web data to understand the labour market role of specific skills, such as language and computer proficiency from both supply and demand perspectives. As such, the presented research represents an ahead of the curve exploration and is intended to set the stage for the future research. At the same time, the thesis very much aims to place the web-based research of labour matching within the cyclopean scope and diversity of the applications of web data in modern labour studies and in the wider scientific enquiry. The presented research draws from my research collaborations focusing on labour market matching and the use of web data, which took place within the framework of the InGRID and Eduworks international collaborative research projects, funded under the 7th financial program of the European Commission in the period 2013-2017.