Skills, social protection and empowerment in the platform economy: A research and policy agenda for the global South

From information and communication technologies to artificial intelligence, from hardware like smart phones to software such as big data management systems, rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the way people live and work. These varying forms of technological innovation pose different risks and opportunities, yet the discourse on how emerging technologies will impact labor markets – still in its nascent stages – tends to treat all of them in the aggregate.

Gregory Randolph, Sabina Dewan

Getting ahead of the Future of Work: Focus on the Systems, not the Skills

What will the future of work look like? If we can understand the ways in which technology, demographic and economic trends will reshape labor markets, we will have a better understanding of what we should be emphasizing
in our educational and training systems to be as well-prepared as possible for tomorrow’s world. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence and robotics have, in particular, created a new momentum to understand exactly how widespread the impacts of technology will be on jobs. Recent reports from the OECD, World Bank, McKinsey, Nesta and others have attempted to ascertain which types of occupations are most at risk of automation, and also which skills and occupations are likely to be most immune to obsolescence.

Sunil Johal

A Call for Lifelong Learning Models in the Digital Age

In today’s knowledge economy, students experience a disconnect between the knowledge and skills they are equipped with during their time in the formal education system and the knowledge and skills they require to make a difference for themselves and their families as well as for the organizations that they set out to build or work for. The rapid evolution of knowledge challenges the fundamentals that existing education systems and learning models are built upon and severely complicates the reliable supply of skilled
human capital.

Bitange Ndemo and Tim Weiss

Reining in the global freelance labor force: how global digital labor platforms change from facilitators into arbitrators

Global digital labor platforms – digital venues via which electronically transmittable service work is traded – are rapidly coming of age. Platforms like Freelancer and Upwork now boast several dozens of millions registered users and facilitate millions of job transactions per year, the result of roughly a decade of exponential growth. Equally telling, perhaps even more so, is that over time, work via such platforms has gradually become more regulated. In their early years, global digital labor platforms offered buyers and sellers of freelance labor a place to deal with each other, but they largely refrained from specifying or enforcing any rules of engagement.

Niels Beerepoot, Bart Lambregts

The Future of Work in the Global South

Do new “digital jobs” offer opportunities for the Global South as they facilitate going beyond limited local job markets? Can women take advantage of their flexibility? How should labor and wages be regulated for the online workforce?

Many answers to these questions are delineated in this new booklet. The publication compiles short chapters by academic researchers and practitioners concerned about the impact of digitization and automation on labor markets and the quality of work in the Global South. The findings are necessary reading for anyone trying to understand how work is being transformed by digital technology, and for policymakers seeking guidance regarding policies that amplify the employment benefits of these trends while mitigating their harms.

Various Authors

Automation and Workforce in India: Terrible consequences or impossible?

Given that a large part of the Indian workforce is low skilled, what would be the impact of automation?
The fear of losing jobs because of the introduction of new technologies is not new. Even with the printing press in the 15th century, the world always has always had two camps (Juma, 2016)– those who supported and introduced it, and others who resisted it for different reasons. In this legacy of intellectual squabbles, automation is the latest entrant.

P. Vigneswara Ilavarasan