Technological inequality – understanding the relation between recent technological innovations and social inequalities (TECHNEQUALITY)


International coordinated research project within the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union.

Recent technological innovations will potentially fundamentally change the size and nature of social inequalities. Success in labour markets and society will likely be driven by other skills than in the past, and traditional predictors of social mobility (e.g. class, educational credentials) are likely to be affected by these technological innovations. Most of the literature addresses the question of whether automation will create or destruct jobs. This project pushes the research frontiers beyond by focussing on the broader societal impact of technological developments.

Within the project, the team at the WZB leads the work package “Educating today for tomorrow’s labour market”. This work package focusses on empirically examining the match between educational biographies and skills, and the impact that education systems, families and workplaces as learning opportunities have on this relationship. The research objectives of this work package are:

  1. To reconceptualise our understanding of education systems to investigate their relevance for preparing current and future workers for the labour market.

  2. To examine the relationship between foundational (primary, secondary, and tertiary/general and vocational) education and the development of skills requirements, and how this relationship varies across countries

  3. To assess the extent to which the link between educational attainment and skills requirements (skill and qualification mismatches) has changed over time

  4. To evaluate the importance of informal and non-formal adult education and training for the acquisition of relevant skills by adult workers

  5. To examine of the determinants of participation in adult education and learning needed for updating the relevant skills over the life course (including workplaces as learning environments)

  6. Analyses of these different aspects of skill acquisition, enhancement and utilization in times of accelerated technological change will also address inequality by gender, family context, and ethnic groups. They will be the basis for policy advice on the role of education in reducing inequalities and preparing (future) workers for the labour market.

In addition to the project team at the WZB, the TECHNEQUALITY consortium consists of sociologists and economists from Maastricht University and Tilburg University (Netherlands), the University of Oxford and Cambridge Econometrics (United Kindom), Stockholm University (Sweden), the European University Institute Florence (Italy), and Tallinn University (Estonia).

Main content

Selected Publications

Hornberg, Carla/Heisig, Jan Paul/Solga, Heike (2024): "Explaining the Training Disadvantage of Less-educated Workers. The Role of Labor Market Allocation in International Comparison". In: Socio-Economic Review, Vol. 22, No. 1, S. 195-222. (vorab online publiziert 29.04.2023)
Hornberg, Carla/Dos Santos, Sascha/Ehlert, Martin/Solga, Heike (2022): Training for the Future. How to Increase Participation Among Vulnerable Workers. Technequality Policy Brief 3. Maastricht: Technequality Consortium.