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The Go-To Resources on Tech@Work

Frickr:“Yellopen” by Bradley P. Johnson. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC-BY2.0)


It’s a buzzword that will be on the lips of the world’s most rich and powerful as they gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos this week: the Fourth Industrial Revolution. For a second year, it’s a key theme of the summit. The arrival of the Fourth Industrial Revolution could be either a powerful driver or a major barrier to meeting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all by 2030.


At the ITC-ILO, we’ve been thinking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution – and what it will mean for the future of work — for a while. The Fourth Industrial Revolution describes the era of rapid transformative change in the 21st century due to significant and rapid advancements in technology. It is predicted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will see transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.


Technology has always played a significant role in modernizing the workplace and transforming jobs. But the speed and magnitude of technological advancement and innovation today is far greater than ever before. And it’s causing a seismic shift to the world of work. Many fear that a wide range of jobs are at risk of extinction. We explored these issues in-depth in our Technology@Work MOOC.


Here are the top three resources to help you prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution:


  1. UNDP’s flagship Human Development Report 2015 on Work for Human Development

The last couple of decades ushered in the digital age, the Internet, and automation and they have decreased labour’s share of the GDP as employers replaced workers with machines, driving down the overall quality and potentially quantity of jobs. The report argues that the link between work and human development is not a given, as some forms of work can damage human development (like the estimated 168 million child labourers and 21 million people in forced labour). The advancement of technological innovation is a powerful driver of change in the world of work everywhere that has been accompanied by rising inequality. I blogged about the UNDP’S HDR 2015 has to say about the Fourth Industrial Revolution here in my earlier blog.


  1. World Bank’s World Development Report 2016 on Digital Dividends

Digital technologies are making people, businesses and governments more connected. Every day people send about 203 billion emails and do 4.2 billion Google searches. However, the combined impact of digital technologies has fallen short of its promise to foster greater social and economic equality. The digital divide persists across gender, geography, age and income within and between countries. The Internet is making workers more productive but the benefits are mostly gained by highly-skilled workers, thus concentrating wealth in the hands of the few and reducing the overall quality of work for others. According to the World Bank, the economics of the Internet favour the formation of digital monopolies that dominate our digital lives and economy. This concentration of market power diminishes the overall economic benefits and digital dividends the Internet provides. To learn more go to our earlier blog.


  1. Oxford Martin School’s report on Technology at Work v2.0

Did you know 64 percent of business and policy leaders believe that automation will lead to major challenges? One of the key messages of the report is that the benefits of technological change are not being shared widely. Within countries, higher skilled workers benefit more than their lower-skilled counterparts. Between countries, North America the most, while China may have the most to lose. In emerging and developing countries, there is concern over “premature deindustrialization”, where the peak manufacturing employment decline as there is downward trend in new job creation in new technology industries. The report identified that creativity, social intelligence, and perception and dexterity are three major bottlenecks to the scope of automation.  To learn more go to the report.


Kai Hsin Hung

Kai-Hsin Hung is an External Collaborator with the ITC-ILO. He develops and designs curriculum and prototypes new sustainable learning solutions. His focus is innovation and knowledge synthesis of complex development challenges, including the future of work, food security, and climate change. He has broad experience in various roles in international advocacy, program management, and policy research at the International Development Research Centre and Global Affairs Canada. Follow him at @KaiHsinHung

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