The future of work is now. Are we ready?

Changes brought by new technologies and globalisation are rapidly reshaping how we work and live.
There has been a lot of talk about the future of work, but now we must turn words into action.

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Key take-aways

The future of work is now
  • Technology is reshaping how we work
  • Some tasks are being done by robots or offshored
  • Other new ones are being created
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The future of work is now
Without the right policies in place, people are being left behind
  • Young people, those with low skills and women
  • Workers who have temporary, part-time, zero-hour contract or "gig" jobs
  • Independent workers with one main employer
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Without the right policies in place, people are being left behind
Act now. We need a new agenda for the future of work that…
  • Addresses the skills deficit
  • Takes a new approach to social protection and collective bargaining
  • Provides investment targeted for those who need it most
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Act now. We need a new agenda for the future of work that…
The future of work is now. Our jobs and lives are rapidly changing. Join the I am the Future of Work campaign and help us build a better world of work.
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Country indicators

Employment rates measure the extent to which those people who are available to work are actually in work. They are calculated as the ratio of the employed to the working age population (people aged 15 to 64).

What does
it mean for you ?
If you work in manufacturing or agriculture and do not have a college degree, the risk that your job will be automated is much higher than if you work in education, health or social work and you do have a college degree.
What’s the future of your job?

We need an effective system for lifelong learning, offering opportunities to the low-skilled, who are the most at risk from automation.

Angel Gurría, OECD Secretary-General
About 14% of jobs in OECD countries are highly automatable and another 32% will be radically transformed by technological progress.
What does
it mean for you ?
Are you self-employed but also highly dependent on one source of income? Do you have little control over how, where and when your work is carried out? Then you may not be getting the rights and protections to which you should be entitled
Who receives social protections and benefits?

Many workers are poorly protected by traditional labour laws and social policies, or not at all. They too need opportunities to thrive and access to social protection.

Stefano Scarpetta, Director, OECD Employment, Labour and Social Affairs directorate
In some countries, part-time or temporary workers, or those with gig jobs or other forms of "non-standard" work, are 40-50% less likely to receive benefits when out of work than those who have a full-time, permanent job with one employer.

Key facts

The world has become more integrated – exports have increased, on average, from 23% of GDP in 1975 to 43% in 2017.
40% of jobs created between 2005 and 2016 were in digitally intensive sectors.
While just over 60% of high-skill workers take part in training, only about 20% of low-skill workers do.
Platform work as a person’s main job is still limited, involving no more than 3% of the workforce in OECD countries.
16% of self-employed people work for only one client – are they truly independent or should they be considered as employees?
Union membership in the OECD has declined. For example, in Germany, it dropped to 17% in 2016, down from 35% in 1985.
Key data
The future of work in figures
Risk of job automation is real but varies greatly across countries Population are ageing fast in OECD countries Many workers do not have the right skills for the new jobs Adult training should better target the disadvantaged Non-standard work is not a marginal phenomenon Social protection needs to be adapted to the future of work
Job automation
Large shares of jobs are risk of automation or significant change

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Broadening the conversation

Nowadays, many of us are temps, self-employed, and artists. We work part-time, pick up gig work, take on zero-hour contracts. How do we reconcile social security protections like pensions, unemployment benefits, and medical insurance with these more fluid forms of work? This episode of OECD Podcasts investigates.

Publications and key resources

Employment Outlook 2019

OECD’s annual report on jobs and employment in OECD countries. Each edition reviews recent trends, policy developments, and prospects.


Photo credits © Stéphane Lagoutte, France Keyser, Ed Alcock, Pierre Hybre , Julien Daniel / MYOP for the OECD "I am the Future of Work" campaign

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