Investment in human capital wouldn't involve such risk, if our commitments in this regard were more negotiable in the marketplace. However, productivity as presently defined, continues to rely on reductions in the use of time aggregates (employment) in relation to output. Even as today's institutions gradually need to become more selective in their choice of skills sets, individuals are reluctant to take fewer investment risks for skills acquisition.
While time "reduced" productivity is a rational process; by itself, this strategy eventually runs counter to our need to remain meaningfully engaged with others on economic terms. In the meantime, human capital will be used sparingly on an "as needed" basis, much as other forms of capital. Perhaps this wouldn't be such a problem, if the costs of education weren't continuing to rise.
Importantly, these are not moral issues, in the sense of "bad" corporations which don't have the best interests of their workers at stake. Yet these problems are commonly framed in moralistic terms (political, social and spiritual), which only makes it more difficult to respond proactively. Meanwhile, plenty of confusion exists regarding measure and importance of productivity. Even high skill employment is being called into question, since it is not always clear whether these activities are capable of contributing to productivity outcomes.
Indeed, it's difficult to recognize the potential for time centered productivity. Time based product is not yet categorized separately from other forms of product output in the marketplace, hence has yet to be discussed in a suitable context. Plus, there are no formal workplace means to measure (ongoing) gains in aggregate time value, which would result from organizing time value to in relation to its own unit functions. Without such means of accountability, the output of high value time based product remains largely hidden, deep within market structures whereby organizations attempt to further reduce time value through technology. Sometimes, even if personal time value is recognized as a vital marketplace component.
One way to make human capital more integral to product, would be to provide context by which markets can organize for production and consumption of time based product within the same framework. Doing so could greatly expand the potential for skills sets of all kinds, and reduce internal costs for services creation, simultaneously. Otherwise - without internal cohesive framing and accounting for time based product, productivity gains may continue to be lost, if and when institutions retain human capital beyond a certain point.
It's important to remember: the "need" to reduce time based participation is not the fault of the institution, but due to the limited context in which productive capacity is presently structured. Even though reductions in time related costs and employment remains appropriate for tradable sectors, a different approach is needed for the time based product of today's non tradable sectors. Societies need much more value from human capital, than what is possible via its current "sell by" date.
So long as time based product is not recognized as a point of distinct market value, employment will remain an external, and often, exogenous cost in a general equilibrium sense. Yet time value as part of an ongoing production and consumption sequence, would provide a better option. Time arbitrage would allow allow individuals to assume more integral roles for services creation, with time value as the primary unit measure. By internalizing broad sets of time product possibilities, one's time value would become easier to negotiate with other individuals. as well.