A fruitful discussion among the speakers focused on the new working normality where phygital (physical and digital) prevails in the post COVID-19 pandemic period.

The immediate impact of the crisis on the workplace and the importance and necessity of human and skills development were highlighted. In addition, the role of transferrable skills, the task of lifelong learning, the evolution of learning tools, the reputation of non-formal education and the importance of certifications were stressed as a priority. In parallel, the speaker highlighted the necessity of synergies and partnerships among multi-stakeholders in implementing strategies and policies for shaping a better workplace environment.

Elias Spirtounias opened the discussion by highlighting that “Τhe forceful advancement of technology in every part of our daily life is a rapid advancement which dictates an environment in which all of us need to adapt. That requires a lifelong learning process in acquiring the necessary digital skills in order to be competent in our daily work and lives”.

Venetia Koussia pointed out that “COVID-19 has reminded us that the two most important factors of our lives are vulnerable and are not for granted. Both health and work need our daily care and appreciation. COVID-19 has succeeded in emerging us, in energizing us, in pushing us from inertia, become more creative and show our creativity in a different way, reinvent the frameworks that we have been thinking of, invent the new boxes”

Ioana Lytrivi pointed out that “Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working or the role of automation and artificial intelligence. It is about how leaders can reskill and upskill workforce to deliver new business models in the post pandemic era”.

Ania Mendrek stressed the importance of educating people in order to develop new skills, to be even occupied in temporary jobs and to provide them psychological support in order to remain active and preserve their optimism.

Konstantinos Pouliakas, highlighted that “The Covid-19 crisis has caused an unprecedented shock to labour markets and has forced us to rethink the way we work and learn. One of its greatest manifestations has been the fact that many people were forced to work from home. But my recent research has revealed that in the decade preceding Covid-19, only a small share of workers (4% in Greece; 14% in EU) were allowed by their employers to work from home. The evidence cautions that individuals most in need to work remotely, to safeguard against Covid-19 risks, are the ones least likely to benefit from it. This includes working moms with children, those providing essential services to tackle the pandemic, younger-aged workers and those in small businesses. I find little evidence that employees working from home in Greece benefit from digital technologies, by contrast most such jobs involve basic tasks such as serving and attending to client needs. In Greece the potential for remote working is significantly underexploited, as I estimate that about 37% of all jobs are potentially ‘teleworkable’. In the coronavirus era, establishing trust relations among Greek businesses and workers to promote the sustainable use of remote work arrangements will be key for mitigating the adverse pandemic consequences and making the most of digitalisation.”

Harry Anthony Patrinos mentioned that “The COVID-19 pandemic lockdown and ensuing global recession make it clear that in today’s labor market, people need to learn how to learn; to re-learn; unlearn; and learn again. A system of lifelong learning – which allows people to develop their skills, employers to find the best talent, and is financially sustainable – is a must. Going forward, we need a system that focuses on basic skills (education), gives opportunities to workers to invest in relevant skills (labor market), and uses evidence from the real world to implement financial innovations (government, academia)”.