Towards a Digitalized World of Work: What Future Works for All?

 

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Agenda

Concept note

1st Plenary Session: How the use of new technologies will affect the future of work?

2nd Plenary Session: What future can we create for the most vulnerable ones?

1st Parallel Session: Will robots take our jobs or help us to be more productive?

2nd Parallel Session: Platform Economy: what challenges for social protection coverage new forms of work create?

3rd Parallel Session: Future of work without inequalities – gender and youth perspective

4th Parallel Session: Ageing Europe – how can we address it by embracing new technologies?

 

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Conference Towards Digitalized World of Work KEY OUTCOMES

EIGE presentation

ISSA Dominique La Salle presentation

Summary First Parallel Session H. Bonin

Summary Social protection of platform workers J. Vallistu

JME - New forms of employment and digitalisation

 

THE FOCUS

The Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania hosted a High-Level International Conference “Towards a Digitalized World of Work: What Future Works for All?” on 25-26 April 2019.

Around one hundred constituents from International Labour Organization, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, International Social Security Association, European Commission, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, European Institute for Gender Equality, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands and Ukraine as well as social partners and academia participated in the Conference.

Participants of the Conference debated and exchanged their views on future of work related issues on how the use of new technologies will affect the future of work and what future we can create for the most vulnerable ones. These discussions will contribute for the policy makers to create effective strategies addressing the impact of the new forces that are transforming the world of work on employment, social, and education systems.

The future of work currently is the topical issue in the international community. Future of Work Centenary Initiative is the flag of the ILO centenary, the OECD has recently launched its Employment Outlook dedicated to the future of work and with the announcement of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU established main principles and rights that are essential for labour markets and welfare systems in the 21st century.

As Mr Linas Kukuraitis, Minister of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania stressed during the opening of the Conference, “It is now clear, that we cannot expect that our current labour market policies and welfare systems will correspond to all these challenges and will ensure full and effective employment protecting economic and social well-being of our people. There is an urgent need to design comprehensive strategies addressing the impact of the digital changes that are transforming the world of work on employment, social, and education systems to ensure that the future of work will work for all of us.”

 

KEY OUTCOMES FROM THE DISCUSSIONS

Effective use of the technologies contributes to productivity gains.

It is important to support people through their work transitions and proactively prepare workers for these shifts in the labour market, recognizing the need to strengthen people´s capabilities, supporting their training, re-skilling and up-skilling. We all need to be able to be reskilled and it has to start in schools in early years.

Most jobs require workers to have more than one skill. Building an automated solution would therefore require a robot that masters many different tasks. Making robots requires highly skilled professionals however, so they tend to be extremely specialized.

It should be pointed out that robots perform tasks but not jobs. It therefore makes sense to think of robots as tools that can be used by people in their workplace, ideally helping with the dull, dirty, or dangerous tasks and boosting effectiveness. If we have this kind of dynamic society, not afraid of changes but rather participating in creating the future there can be a balanced cooperation with robots.

Some very good practices on how changes can be coped with were presented during the discussions. Coaches in companies who help workers to reskill, high attention for vocational training and personal accounts for life-long learning are just a few of them. Governments must also keep in mind the possibility of lowering taxes for employers in order to keep adequate wages. Global businesses must go hand in hand with international regulations. Furthermore, social dialogue at all levels is what of utmost importance.

 

New forms of work in the platform economy should have adequate social protection coverage.

Jobseekers seeking to enter flexible employment relations are increasingly turning to digital labour platforms, yet, these new forms of work do not always guarantee equal and fair opportunities in terms of both access to the labour market and adequate social protection coverage.

The employment status is strongly connected with the social protection coverage. On the short term the platform workers as well as other self-employed might suffer from the lack of social security benefits. In the long run, they may not be entitled to an adequate level of retirement benefits.

We have to create effective social protection schemes in order to ensure that workers in the new forms of work are sufficiently covered. At the same time we have to provide some flexibility for workers ensuring that they are able to decide when and how they want to work.

Universal, tax-based systems are not the most desired solution, but systems will have to better reflect the diversity of the modern workforce. Some of the strategies proposed include measures to lower thresholds for the minimum period of employment required to qualify for employment-related protection, to ensure greater equality between workers in different forms of employment, and improving access to benefits by allowing more flexibility with regard to interrupted contribution periods.

To better enable social dialogue, adequate representation structures are needed, but so is more legal clarity on the relationship between employers, workers and platforms. Social partners and governments need to adapt their policies to ensure the protection of platform workers in this challenging legal environment.

 

To have future of work without inequalities we should design our policies taking into account gender and youth perspective.

Labour market policies should be designed without occupational, gender, age or any other segregation. It is a long process but it starts from birth when gender norms are set. Educational system might make great changes in the way the society and traditional values are understood.

Studies have already provided evidence of strong benefits of women participation in the labour market in concreate numbers of GDP and productivity growth. What is crucial for the governments is to provide enough qualitative childcare services and adequate alternatives for both parents to enjoy work-life balance. More and more countries introduce paid parental leave. That is why increasing funding for social protection is of utmost importance.

Some good practices were shared by the participants on how to deal with gender pay gap such as training for young mothers who don’t have education or development of gender and career councils in companies, IT system tool which would indicate how strongly the salary paid by the company is gender bias.

Women are not the only group that must be activated. Youth migration must be faced by providing alternatives for young people in order to keep businesses and economy competitive. Youth guarantees is one of the successful instruments that were introduced at the EU level and the efforts to find other solutions must continue. In this case digitalization might be seen as one of the solutions.

International and local research institutions must be encouraged and supported in addressing the issue of inequality. The more data we have the more we are aware of the kind of problems we are facing and the more concreate means can be applied.

 

As Europe is ageing, we should empower older workers by embracing new technologies.

Digitalization and the use of the technologies create great opportunities but at the same time it puts pressure on some categories of workers, especially on the vulnerable ones. Older workers struggle the most when using technologies at work. In the situation when the society is ageing our older workforce needs special attention.

We need to invest in life-long learning and training at the workplace in order to ensure that those workers have necessary skills and can adapt easily. This should be a common responsibility not only for the governments but for social partners as well.

We must notice new opportunities and use them properly on time as well as we need to ensure adequate social protection as the society ages.  

Working together on creating strategies which make the labour market more attractive to elderly generation is a crucial key element. Each government has to take a responsibility and to do its best in order to encourage employers to keep and to ensure proper conditions for older people to stay employed.

If we want to turn the challenges we are facing into the opportunities, efforts by all actors should be jointly directed to promote decent work and sustainable environment for our business in the digital age. If all actors engage in active cooperation, the future is ours.

 

PARTICIPANTS

International organisations:

International Labour Organization (ILO), Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Social Security Association (ISSA), European Commission (EC), European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofond), European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE).

Member states[1]:

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, and Ukraine.

Social partners:

International Organisation of Employers (IOE), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), BusinessEurope and European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

 


[1] National delegations are expected to be composed by a High-level Representative plus technical expert(s).

Last updated: 27-05-2019