TRS.20.029 – How to thwart the threats against human capital development and foster the resilience of the labor force?

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 049 How can we ensure that our labour force and labour-market organisations remain robust and resilient as they face the challenges of the 21st century?

Human capital development is one of the key strategies to keep workers resilient in times of 21st century challenges. However, this carries two contestable assumptions. First, that human capital development fosters resilience across all sectors and all groups in the labor force. Second, that workers are able and willing to organize, invest and take part in human capital development. For example, some industry sectors engage more heavily in automation, which especially threatens low-skilled workers’ economic resilience, and pension reforms force older workers to delay retirement, but both groups are given few opportunities to retrain or show a low willingness to train. This study focuses on 1) analyzing resilience for different sectors of the economy and for different groups of workers in the Netherlands, 2) analyzing what threatens human capital development in these sectors and subgroups of workers, and 3) what policies help in thwarting these sector- and subgroup specific threats to human capital development and resilience. We exploit exogenous variation provided by recent major economic and societal shocks (e.g., employment shocks, reforms, and the Covid-19 pandemic) to identify these effects.

Our study integrates quantitative and qualitative methods and will use, among others, CBS microdata, data to be collected via the LISS panel and data generated by stated preferences experiments. We construct employment histories of individuals in the labor force, and follow these up to 4 years after the project start date. We operationalize the resilience of workers through objective and subjective measures, such as their willingness to learn, access to training and education, labor market position, employability (awareness), and (financial) stress levels. In-depth focus groups with representatives of sectors and subgroups of workers will enhance our understanding of explanatory mechanisms behind the relationships we identify, and help us identify policy tools that can enhance economic resilience of the labor force.


employability, human capital, resilience, skills

Other organisations

Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences


Organisation Maastricht University (UM),School of Business and Economics, ROA
Name Prof. dr. D. (Didier) Fouarge