Forum 2016 Issues: The future of work


© Shutterstock / Rawpixel.comA key question that we addressed in the Forum was how to harness the benefits of the current revolution in technology, and ensure the creation of quality jobs and economic growth.

While some argue that with low growth rates and adverse demography in many developed economies, we should be welcoming robots with open arms, some fear for the future of work, believing that middle-income jobs may be negatively affected, as work that consists of following clearly specified directions will increasingly be carried out by computers or robots. These are the jobs largely held by the segment of the population that provides “glue” to our societies.

While the growth of the on-demand, so-called “gig economy” has the potential to establish a “Silicon Valley everywhere” by lowering the risk of starting a business and unleashing innovation throughout the economy, it may also lead to more inequality.

The new types of businesses that are being created in the digital economy rely much less on permanent staff, and are introducing new ways of working which may create greater flexibility for employers but at the risk of greater job insecurity.

  • What will be the impact (both positive and negative) of further advances in digitalisation on the world of work?
  • What opportunities and challenges will digitalisation pose to labour and skills policies to ensure workers are well prepared to face the changing world of work?

More broadly, some argue that, unless we begin to radically reassess the fundamentals of how our economy works, we could have both an enormous population of permanently unemployed – the truck drivers, warehouse workers, cooks, lawyers, doctors, teachers, programmers whose jobs have become superfluous by automated and intelligent machines – and a global economy in which ever-widening inequality looms, hindering economic, social and environmental progress.







oecd observer on the future of work



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