People employed in legal, social and cultural occupations are engaged in a wide variety of activities relating to law, social sciences, religion, arts and entertainment.
- People employed in legal, social and cultural occupations are engaged in a wide variety of activities relating to law, social sciences, religion, arts and entertainment.
- The five key skills required for these professionals and associate professionals are communication, problem solving, teamwork, literacy and planning.
- They are highly needed in nine EU Member States while other six EU countries report a surplus in this occupation.
- Over the period 2005-2015 the number of people employed as professionals in this occupational group increased by 25%.
- The need to replace employees within these occupational groups, due to reasons such as retirement, will account for nearly 80% of the new job openings amongst professionals and around 50% of those for associate professionals.
- Many jobs in this occupation are dependent on public financing, not just in public services sectors, but in arts and entertainment as well.
- Demographic change and the ageing population in the EU will create an increased demand for social care professionals and associate professionals.
Who are they? 1
People employed in legal, social and cultural occupations are engaged in a wide variety of activities relating to law, social sciences, religion, arts and entertainment. They may conduct research; apply knowledge relating to the law and wide range of social sciences, arts and entertainment. This analytical highlight discusses trends and developments in employment and skills both of professionals and associate professionals. Relevant professions include: lawyers, librarians, archivists and curators, economists, journalists, priests, etc. At the associate professional level, people are engaged in the practical application of knowledge and skills in jobs such as paralegals, community workers, chefs, photographers, but also sport coaches and athletes.
What skills do they need?
According to Cedefop’s European skills and jobs survey (ESJS), the key five skills for people employed in legal, social and cultural occupations are communication, problem solving, teamwork, literacy and planning. These skills could support employees in this occupation to also tackle anticipated future skill challenges (see drivers of change below).
Figure 1: Most important skills required for people employed in legal, social and cultural occupations
Where are they mostly in demand?
The labour market dynamics for this occupation differ across EU Member States:
Figure 2: Shortages and surpluses for people employed in legal, social and cultural occupations across the EU
According to Cedefop, these professionals are in shortage in Germany, Estonia, France, Poland, Slovenia, Romania and Finland. However there is a tendency for skills surpluses in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Sweden. A similar picture appears for associate professionals: shortages are likely to occur in Lithuania, Portugal, Romania, whereas surpluses in Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden.
What are the trends for the future? 2
Over the period 2005-2015 the number of people employed as professionals in this occupational group increased by 25%, while the respective number for associate professionals remained unchanged. Employment is expected to further grow until 2025, but interestingly, growth will be more eminent for associate professionals (40%) than professionals (about 12%). As expected, most new job opportunities will be created in public service sectors and in legal, accounting & consulting activities.
Employment in these occupational groups is spread across many sectors. Public service sectors, e.g. public administration, health and social care and education represent more than two-fifths of their total employment. Additional quarter of their employment is in the arts (14%) and legal, accounting & consulting activities (11 %).
The need to replace employees within these occupational groups, due to reasons such as retirement 3, will account for nearly 80% of the new job openings amongst professionals and around 50% of those for associate professionals. Overall, a bit over two thirds of new job openings across both professional and associate professional groups will be a result of the need to replace staff leaving the occupation. The qualifications profile of those employed as professionals and associate professionals in this occupation usually hold a high qualification – almost 90 % at professional and around 50 % at associate professional level. In years to come, qualification requirements in this occupation may slightly increase.
Which drivers of change will affect their skills?
Legal, social and cultural professionals and associate professionals perform a number of relatively distinct jobs, which will be affected in very different ways by drivers of change in the economy. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify patterns of change affecting this group of occupations.
- Technology advancements will affect the content of jobs in this occupational group. For example, algorithms are increasingly substituting for tasks performed by paralegals, contract and patent lawyers. Law firms make use of systems that can scan thousands of legal briefs and precedents to perform document review and to assist in pre-trial research 4. However, automation is not only affecting jobs with high routine rate, but “blue-collar” ones as wells, such as lawyers 5.
Disruptive Innovations in Legal Services 6
Despite traditional resistance to change in legal professions, pro-competitive “disruptive” innovations are beginning to transform legal services and the manner in which they are delivered. Online service delivery is allowing both legal professionals and unlicensed providers to serve clients remotely while taking advantage of the scalability of digital platforms. In addition, ranking and review information regarding legal professionals is becoming increasingly accessible, and is allowing clients to assess the quality of professionals before retaining them – a previously difficult proposition. Furthermore, the unbundling of services, partially driven by increasing client awareness and fee pressure, is transforming the distribution of tasks in legal services and ending traditional “black box” models of service delivery. As a result, standardised activities are being outsourced to low-cost providers (including unlicensed ones), and new billing models are being introduced. Finally, automation is changing the nature, and volume, of tasks that legal professionals perform. Although the extent to which the work of legal professions can be automated is subject to debate, automated systems have been introduced which offer new capabilities and, in at least some instances, improved performance relative to legal professionals.
- Similarly, technological developments affect jobs of those involved in storing and retrieving information (like librarians and archivists), requiring them to have new ICT skills. Digitalization also affects jobs related to audiovisual production which leads to an ever-increasing demand for related skills 7; as well as fitness and recreation instructors. The fitness sector in Europe is growing very fast 8. Together with expected further growth of demand of fitness instructors, the digitalization and ICT is a very strong driver of change 9, as it offers new ways of fitness services delivery.
- Many jobs in this occupation are dependent on public financing, not just in public services sectors, but in arts and entertainment as well. As public budgets will continue to be strained, the demand for professional and associate professionals involved in the delivery of public services (e.g. social workers) or in roles which are dependent upon public funding (e.g. creative and performing artists) will be affected. Greater cost-effectiveness 10 may negatively impact employment prospects for this occupation, especially at associate professional level.
- For persons employed in the arts and entertainment industry, the challenge of insufficient funding and high competition lead to more precarious job options; in turn, people working in this industry are forced to adopt the ‘multi-activity’ model: seek multiple jobs in the same or other sectors. In terms of skills, such employment models demand non-technical skills, such as self-management 11.
- Many jobs in this occupation are related to analytical and research work in social science and also to writing books and/or contributing to newspapers and the media. Here the ICT skills will be once again of ever-increasing importance, because of growing volume of data and information available online. However with this the challenge of valuing quality and relevance of such information arises. The skills related to critical and analytical thinking will be demanded even more.
- Demographic change and the ageing population in the EU will create an increased demand for social care professionals and associate professionals. But these jobs are likely to change in response to both a need to gain efficiencies resulting from pressures on public expenditure, and also from improvements in service delivery. For example, there is a trend for more care to be delivered in the home by teams of different types of care professionals; working in inter-disciplinary teams will require skills related to a variety of medical, caring and IT disciplines (e.g. where medical devices are in the home and monitored remotely) 12.
- Globalisation creates a range of impacts, such as a demand for international legal professionals who are engaged in cross-border legal cases and who therefore need a second or third foreign language capacity. In a more inter-connected world, journalists may be increasingly working on cross-border issues with their counterparts in other countries, and librarians / archivists will increasingly need to access data held abroad.
- Environmental regulation has the impact of creating new fields of regulation that lawyers and paralegals need to be able to master, but also creates a demand for skills that will allow people in this occupation to reduce their carbon footprint.
How can these skill needs be met?
Many professional occupations in this group are regulated and the relevant professional bodies have a role to play in ensuring that individuals are appropriately skilled in their jobs. Regulation can play an important role in specifying the competences required of a practitioner in, for example, the legal profession. There are also various networks in place that allow good practice to be shared between professionals and associate professionals – a community of practice (e.g. European Social Network). 13
Ensuring the continuous professional development of existing workers is a common challenge. Depending on the specific sub-occupation, the challenge is greater for professionals that are to a great extent self-employed (e.g. lawyers) or freelancers (e.g. journalists).
 Defined as ILO ISCO 08 groups 26 legal, social and cultural professionals and 34 legal, social, cultural and related associate professionals. ILO (2012) International Standard Classification of Occupations ISCO-08. More information on the occupation can be found here and here.
 Cedefop 2016 forecast.
 The need to replace workers leaving a profession for various reasons, such as retirement, is referred to as replacement demand. For more information on replacement demand and how it drives employment across sectors, can be found on the Skills Panorama here.
 Frey, B C & Osborne, M 2015, Technology at work. The Future of Innovation and Employment, Oxford Martin School and Citi.
 Weller, C 2016, “The world's first artificially intelligent lawyer was just hired at a law firm”, Tech insider, 16 May 2016, accessed 6 June 2016.
 OECD 2016, Protecting and Promoting Competition in Response to “Disruptive” Innovations in Legal Services.
 European Social Network 2015, Public social services in crisis: challenges and responses.
European Risk Observatory 2014, Current and emerging issues in the healthcare sector, including home and community care.