Work and Society

Under the auspices of the ILO’s Future of Work and South-South and Triangular Cooperation divisions, the ITC-ILO welcomes leading global experts to a symposium on Work and Society from September 21st to 22nd, 2017.

The symposium brings together over 30 leading global experts and aims to mobilize their knowledge and distill new evidences and insights on the changing place and function of work in society. The two-day symposium will contribute to the centenary conversations and inform the work of the Global Commission on the Future of Work.

It is a unique opportunity to hear from a diversity of voices, especially from the South, in an intimate setting on crucial questions impacting our society and the future of work. How is the changing nature of work reshaping society? How is the meaning of work evolving? How do we give shape to a new social model and work forward decent work for all?

Guy Ryder, the head of the ILO at the opening of the Future of Work Centenary Initiative noted that “a future of work conversation that tackles this [referring to Work and Society] and related matters will be dealing not with soft issues, but with some of the hardest problems we have before us.”

Decent work is crucial to achieving social justice. However, the traditional place and function of work in society is changing, hence, we will also need to redefine what is work and its place in shaping a just society. In doing so, we can start to re-work societal norms and re-imagine institutions through social dialogue and innovation to help create and shape the future of work we want.

We are seeing the erosion of standard employment relations in an increasingly networked society and digitized economy. The traditional archetypes of work and work identities are being replaced. Work today is becoming ever more flexible, short-term and transient forms of work, with workers being increasingly mobile spatially and functionally – in other words more fragmented and atomized. The changing nature of work is also challenging us to examine the socializing function of work in terms of our participation and inclusion in society and how we could seize new opportunities.

Furthermore, the conversation on Work and Society will be contextualized against complex and emerging world of work mega-trends: the deepening of global inequality, the rapid growth of the gig and sharing economies, the emergence of new production models, and the rise of digital labour, among others trends. These mega-trends in the world of work are also occurring against the backdrop of shifting demographic trends, climate change, the digital divide, irregular migration patterns, rapid urbanization, gender inequality, and globalization.

The implications of these developments raise the prospect of a fundamental recasting of the place of work in society.

The Centenary Initiative 

The Future of Work Issue Note Series