TopicsLabour markets

An estimated 14% 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

Measuring platform-mediated workers (2019)

In recent years there has been a large number of attempts to estimate the number of platform workers. Lacking a common definition of platform workers, however, these estimates are not comparable across countries and over time. This paper starts to address these issues, by explaining the concept of platform work, reviewing previous attempts to measure platform workers by private agencies and official statistical agencies and examining how different survey questions can affect the understanding of the respondents. The paper also highlights innovative uses of data that provide greater insights into platform workers and concluded with recommendations on how to measure platform workers in the future.

Determinants and impact of automation - An analysis of robots' adoption in OECD countries (2019)

This report analyses automation trends and its effect on employment in OECD countries. On average, robots are found to be associated with a reduction in employment in elementary occupations – those requiring the lowest levels of skills – and an increase in employment in high-skill occupation such as professionals and technicians. For occupations in the middle of the skills distribution the correlation is strong and negative. In general, therefore, these estimates do not support the hypothesis of labour market polarisation, i.e. an increase in both high-skill and low-skill employment. However, in a few countries - notably the United States - the report finds evidence of labour market polarisation.

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