The Technology@Work Initiative: Exploring the New Frontiers of Technology and Work
The Technology@Work blog is a practical technological tool to raise critical awareness on identified themes in the area of technology at work. It’s one of the support initiatives developed by the International Training Centre of the ILO contributing to the larger Future of Work initiative.
In this Technology@Work blog you will see curated content provided by experts and guest bloggers with the following three objectives:
- Monitor up-to-date news and interesting articles and knowledge sharing events that shed new light on the technology at work theme.
- Identify relevant questions that are related with the technology at work discussion and facilitated crowd sourced insights.
- Invite experts to share views on the questions that were identified.
About the Future of Work
Under the leadership of Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), four global conversations were launched as part of the its Future of Work Centenary Initiative, which was also highlighted in its 2015 International Labour Conference Report. The Initiative is the centerpiece of the ILO’s activities to mark its 100th anniversary in 2019.
The objective with the Future of Work Centenary Initiative is for the ILO to spearhead the thought leadership and facilitate the global debate on the transformation in the world of work today and into the future. The four global conversations feeding into a high-level commission and then then 108th Session (2019) of the Conference. A broad framework is needed to give the future of work centenary initiative the necessary structure and focus for concrete results to be obtained. In 2016 all ILO members States were invited to undertake national “Future of Work” dialogues structured around the four centenary conversations:
- Work and society
- Decent jobs for all
- The organization of work and production
- The governance of work
About the Four Centenary Conversations Proposed by the Director-General
Four centenary conversations have been proposed by the Director-General, each of which would address a broad of key significance in the broader transformation of the world of work. These four conversations should be regarded as non-exclusive and indicative; contributions may address more than one of them and all inputs relevant to the future of work should a place within them. The four proposed conversations are:
Work and Society: A reflection of the purpose of work in general, and the place and function of work in society in particular. As highlighted by the Director-General, it is tempting – but wrong – to extrapolate from the experiences already observable on the most advanced economies as a best estimate of what the future will look like, because developing and emerging economies may well follow distinctly different paths than the early industrialized economies”.
Decent Jobs for All: The ILO’s constitutional obligation is to promote full employment and rising standards of living. The experience of recent decades, and most particularly that of the post-crisis period, poses the question whether or not something has fundamentally changed in the working of the global economy, some tectonic reorganization, which renders the policy instruments now at the disposal of national and international policy makers incapable of generating the jobs that are needed in sufficient quality and quantity. Consequently, the questions on whether we need to use the policy tools we already know , but use them better and with a greater dose of international cooperation and coordination, or whether we need to substitute or supplement them with entirely new and innovative approaches and policies. Derivative questions flowing from these lead questions could be the impact of technological innovation on employment creation in Africa, and sources for future job growth like the green economy.
The Organization of Work and Production: An increasingly globalized economy is generating major developments in the way that work and production are organized. These developments are the result of the interplay between public policy decisions and private initiative. While the state sets the regulatory framework and in many cases also organizes work as an employer in the public sector, it is above all in the private sector where most jobs are created and where the real impact and impetus or the reorganization of work and production are to be found. The enterprise is the key vector of change and the centenary initiative should help the ILO better understand the dynamics of the enterprise and how it will shape the future of work. While there is little question that the enterprise will continue to be the essential unit of work and production, very fundamental questions are posed about what it will look like in the future and how it will operate.
The Governance of Work: Societies seek to exercise governance over the way work is carried out through a combination of instruments: laws and regulations, voluntarily concluded agreements, labour market institutions, and the interaction of governments and organizations of employers and workers. These have generally been developed in accordance with underlying social norms that have been embodied in the ILO’s goal of social justice and codified in international labour conventions through tripartite negotiations. These conventions provide a framework of guidance for member states as they seek to marry economic growth and social progress. Faced with an increasingly globalized economy, a number of fundamental questions about the appropriate level of detail, the nature of and the content of international labour market regulation and how it may be made more effective have been raised. Furthermore, the explosive growth of a wide range of initiatives driven by the private sector and meant to better govern work by way of voluntarily concluded agreements (sometimes grouped under the term corporate social responsibility) puts the existing mechanisms for labour market governance to the test, including the notion of bipartite and tripartite social dialogue at its root. The future role of Ministries of Labour, trade unions and employers organizations must therefore be part of this centenary conversation, and the question is what part will the future world of work accord to such organizations, and how will they contribute to shape that future.