Background work > Labour markets

Nearly 10% of jobs could be automated, but new jobs are emerging elsewhere

Digitalisation is likely to have a profound impact on the world of work, affecting not only how many and what types of jobs are available, but also how and by whom they will be carried out. This brings both risks and opportunities. According to recent OECD estimates, nearly one in ten jobs could be automated, while another 25% could undergo significant change as a result of automation. At the same time, new jobs are emerging elsewhere, including for big data specialists, app developers, social media managers, and Internet of Things architects.

In addition, digitalisation has given rise to the platform economy and, while the number of gig workers is currently relatively small, it is increasing rapidly. While new types of work promoted by the digital revolution allow for more flexibility for both employers and workers, they also bring important risks in terms of lower job quality. Digitalisation therefore sets important challenges for labour market policy and institutions.

Note: Data for Belgium correspond to Flanders. Data for the United Kingdom correspond to England and Northern Ireland.

Digitisation is shaping the future of work

The penetration of the Internet, big data, artificial intelligence are allowing machines to do things that were unthinkable only a few years ago. Technological change poses questions on the types of jobs that will be needed in the future, the tasks that will be required and how work is organised. The challenge for policy is to keep pace with the rapid change and to adapt to new scenarios.

Skills, skills and skills are going to be the watchwords of the future

Openness to change and a continuous questioning of the way we work are the keys to being prepared for the future of work. This advice comes from Mark Keese, Head of the OECD Employment Analysis and Policy Division.

Digital economy papers

New Forms of Work in the Digital Economy

This paper provides new evidence on the development of online platforms and explores the emergence of new forms of work in the digital economy. Following the rise of platforms that match demand and supply of goods (e-commerce) and information (search, social networks), platform markets for services traded over the Internet (the "x"-economy) have grown exponentially in recent years. The paper analyses how online platforms affect the organisation of markets and work; discusses related opportunities and challenges for individuals participating in such markets; presents analysis of trends and effects of non-standard work in OECD countries; and identifies policy issues related to new forms of work. It finds that the transformative effects of online platforms may challenge existing institutions and might necessitate reviews of policy and regulatory frameworks in many areas. To further analyse such digital transformation, better data is needed on the effects of online platforms in all of these areas.


ICTs and Jobs: Complements or Substitutes?

This report examines the effects of investments in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) on i) total labour demand; ii) labour demand by skill level; and iii) labour demand by industry in selected OECD countries over the period 1990-2012. ICT investments are estimated to have raised total labour demand in most countries over the period 1990-2007 but to have reduced it after 2007. In the latter period, the decrease in total labour demand has been accompanied by polarisation in favour of high and low skills and against medium skills. Yet, the effects on both total labour demand and polarisation are estimated to disappear in the long run. These changes have occurred through a process of labour reallocation across industries, away from manufacturing and towards some services, including care, culture and recreation.


New Markets and New Jobs

This report provides new evidence on the effects of digital technologies on labour demand and discusses key policies to foster employment in the digital economy. The digital economy has the potential to enhance productivity, income and social well-being. It is creating job opportunities in new markets and increasing employment in some existing occupations. As digital technologies enable the production of more goods and services with less labour, they also expose some workers to the risk of unemployment or lower wages. They also enable changes in the organisation of work, with implications for the capability of existing policies and programmes to ensure labour market inclusion, job quality and skills development. The report discusses policies to foster growth and employment in new economic activities enabled by digital technologies, to accompany workers along the transition to new jobs, and to help ensure job quality in the digital economy.


Skills and Jobs in the Internet Economy

Both generic and specialised ICT skills are becoming an important requirement for employment across the economy as the Internet becomes more engrained in work processes, but a significant part of the population lacks the basic skills necessary to function in this new environment. This paper examines the impact of the Internet on the labour market in this context. For example, between 7% and 27% of adults have no experience in using computers or lack the most elementary computer skills, such as the ability to use a mouse. In addition, the groups with the least ICT skills tend to be among the demographic groups at the most risk of losing jobs. Data also highlight a potential skills mismatch among those with the strongest ICT skills (youth) and those who actually use them at work (prime age and older adults).


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