Two senior fellows, Prof. Luc Soete and Dr. Alessio Brown, recently featured in articles by the Financial Times and T-Systems magazine. Both wrote about the future world of work amid accelerating technological change — touching on the risks and rewards and the assumptions and disruptions.
In a guest post for the FT, Prof. Soete explored the challenges posed to labour markets by growing automation — a notion he roundly dispelled as a red herring. “Historically the evidence of disappearing skills as a result of new technologies has not really been at the core of the emergence of mass unemployment. In short, we tend to lack the necessary imagination to anticipate the new types of jobs that can be created by the new technologies.”
Instead, “the technology employment issue is first and foremost… a distributional issue. The record on what has been achieved over the last 20 years… and [the] Internet started to diffuse globally, is disappointing to say the least with respect to those emerging distributional challenges.”
One answer to rising inequalities, claims Soete, would be an “unconditional ‘basic income’ [which] could well lead to a substantial voluntary shift in labour market participation, based on free choice and ultimately to the benefit of the individual, even to his health and happiness, as well as to the benefit of society.” See the full post for more details.
In a separate interview for T-Systems magazine, Dr. Alessio Brown focused on the radical and ongoing transformations in the modern workplace. “A changing world is nothing new – but the current pace of change certainly is. We won’t be running out of work, but many occupations that we take for granted today will disappear. Instead, the digital economy will grow: with half a million workers in Germany, it’s already nearly as important as the automotive industry.”
Focusing on the flexibility provided by new technologies, Brown said: “Those who want to stay competitive – companies and employees – will have to adjust… We should view these changes as an opportunity to improve our life planning and build on the necessary key qualifications.”
There will, however, be challenges: “Work will become more complex overall and boundaries between our jobs and our personal lives will become more blurred. Self-management and good leadership will be needed to avoid stress. We also need to make sure that business risks are not increasingly transferred to individuals. The growing number of crowd-workers needs advocacy groups to improve their social security.” See the full interview for more details.