AIAS Lunch Seminar 31 May: Gert van Vugt 'Inevitably Unemployable: An Enquiry Into the Nature of Skill Demand and Supply'

Inevitably Unemployable: An Enquiry Into the Nature of Skill Demand and Supply

Gert van Vugt, studies Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Day: Thursday 31 May 2012
Time: 12.15 – 13.15 hrs.
Location: AIAS, 3rd floor, M building, Plantage Muidergracht 12, Amsterdam
Registration: Please send an email, preferably before Wednesday 12.00 hrs, to register.
A sandwich will then be provided.


A theory of skill demand and supply is advanced based on the following propositions. The demand for human skills in an economy depends on the skills that can be supplied by technology at the same price level. Technology develops exponentially; positive feedback loops ensure that existing technology is used in the process of developing new technology, and more resources are directed towards technological developments as it becomes more effective. Changes in technological capacities both push up skill demands and alter what it means to be skilled, making empirical measures of skill capricious and unreliable. The level of skill in an individual is essentially a function of learning with diminishing growth capacities over age. As such, the relative increase in the rate of technological developments to learned skills suggests that technology is ‘winning the race’. As labor price or wage levels have a bottom limit while the rate of flexibility in the supply of skills has an upper limit, the theory concludes that complete replacement of human skills by technology is eventually inevitable, and that this moment will be preceded by pervasive unemployment and profound rises in inequality.

Click here for an overview of all lunch seminars from January – July 2012

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