On the occasion of the Plenary meeting of the European Social Dialogue Committee for the Postal Sector (SDC), the European Social Partners, namely the employers under the umbrella of PostEurop and the trade unions of UNI Europa Post & Logistics and CESI signed the “Joint Declaration on Training and Work Environment in the Digital Transition”.
The Joint Declaration builds on the findings of the EC funded project “Postal Skills and Work Environment in the Digital Era”, implemented by the SDC working group “Training, Health & Safety” over the last two years. The main purpose of the “Postal Skills and Work Environment in the Digital Era” project was to investigate the evolving relationships between digital transformation, new skills and work environments, to provide a better understanding of how companies and employees can benefit from technology, understand the impact of digitalisation on training and retraining activities as well as to envision the potential impact the new technologies can have on the work environment. The project analysed the impact of digitisation on training in key professional areas such as back-office operations, delivery operations and post-offices networks. It also analysed the impact of digitisation during the pandemic period. The analysis focused on identifying possible evolutions of the digitalisation impact on training and work environment in a time horizon of 5-7 years.
In the Joint Declaration, points of particular importance are those in which employers and unions recognise the increasingly central role of training and retraining in tackling the organisational and economic challenges affecting the sector, the growing importance of soft skills in providing the customer with new products and services as well as the need for training and retraining programs more tailored to the workers’ needs.
Some of the project main outputs highlighted in the joint declaration are also that the evolution of jobs entails that employees will be put into more contact with customers and working more in collaboration with colleagues, requiring from them enhanced interrelation and managerial skills as well as greater autonomy. Given these evolutions, training, re-training and up-skilling must continue to be considered as a joint responsibility in a lifelong perspective for postal workers to ensure a fair digital transition and appropriate skills and jobs matching.
Digitalisation of the postal sector in terms of skills entails that the most crucial skills of the future are soft skills, e.g. critical thinking, problem solving, active listening, relational skills like active listening and need understanding. Indeed, the skills required to master a singular technological change are very often micro-skills, or minor changes in procedures that can be learned without excessive efforts. The real discomfort element, our research found, are the continuous updates and technological improvements, their pace and frequency, which can be destabilizing. Soft skills are vital to acquire resilience and adapt to constant transformation of the sector.
The report also recognizes that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated many of the digital transformations already seen in the postal sector being it in terms of products’ diversification but also of increased use of digital processes and devices such as contactless confirmation. In order to, support these transformations, the joint declaration also underlines the key role played by social dialogue to accompany the sector’s digitisation and diversification processes and the related changes in tasks, roles and competences.
The final conclusions of the “Postal Skills and Work Environment in the Digital Era” project materials can be accessed here.