Research and academic articles prepared within the Future of Work in the Global South (FoWiGS) project

The Future of Work in the Global South

Digitization and networked communications are increasingly touching all aspects of modern life. Among them is employment, which has served as a key organizing principle for society since the industrial revolution. Employment has long anchored labor contracts and the division of labor within organizations, large and small. It has also shaped individual careers, orienting investments in basic education and job training. In many countries, traditional employment is at the center of social protection programs, from health care to pension systems. Employment also affects individual’s sense of belonging to a social group with shared career expectations and norms. Promoting equal employment opportunities is often at the center of economic and social inclusion programs for women, racial minorities and the youth. As a result, ongoing changes in digital communications and computing that significantly affect the nature of work are poised to have long-lasting impacts on development outcomes.

Hernan Galperin and Andrea Alarcon

Geographical Discrimination in the Gig Economy

Online labor platforms were expected to flatten labor markets by reducing the importance of worker location and, as a result, promote employment and wage growth in developing countries based on cost differentials. We test these propositions using transactional data from Nubelo, a large online labor platform for Spanish-speaking employers/freelance workers.

Hernan Galperin, Catrihel Greppi

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