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Ten trends shaping the Future of Work in Europe

The nature of work has always undergone profound changes, driven by technological progress, demographic shifts, labour market regulations, and macroeconomic fluctuations.  The European Commission has just published a paper which zooms into some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing Europe as it transitions into a new world of work.  The paper identifies 10 trends shaping the future of work and looks at the challenges these trends present.  The ten trends are:

  • Technology and new business models are changing the very concept of work
  • The rise of non-standard work requires an upgraded social contract
  • Middle-paying jobs are in decline
  • Lifelong learning is the new normal
  • Basic skills still matter, and digital is now one of them
  • Work and leisure are increasingly overlapping in today’s 24/7 streaming society
  • Robots and algorithms are becoming integral parts of business culture
  • The service economy helped put more women to work, but progress is now stalling
  • People are working longer but how long is long enough?
  • Europe is struggling to attract the world’s best talent

Social Justice Ireland has long advocated culture and policymaking in this area needs to be revised.   Given the current strength of the labour market, Social Justice Ireland believes that now is the time to adopt substantial measures to address the challenges posed by the changing nature of employment and employment patterns.  Among our policy proposals in this area are:

  • Recognise that the term “work” is not synonymous with the concept of “paid employment”. Everybody has a right to work, i.e. to contribute to his or her own development and that of the community and the wider society. This, however, should not be confined to job creation. Work and a job are not the same thing;
  • Policy should seek at all times to ensure that new jobs have reasonable pay rates and adequately resource the labour inspectorate.
  • Resource the upskilling of those who are unemployed and who are at risk of becoming unemployed through integrating training and labour market programmes.
  • Develop an integrated skills development, vocation training, apprenticeship and reskilling strategy with a focus on digital skills across the lifecycle.
  • Resource and deliver a Just Transition programme which should contain as a minimum (i) re-training and support for those communities who will be most impacted by the loss of employment; (ii) support and investment in the circular economy and bio-economy with regional strategies and targets; (iii) investment in the deep retrofitting of homes and community facilities; (iv) investment in renewable energy schemes and in community energy advisors and community energy programmes; (v) policies to eliminate energy poverty and (vi) investment in a quality, accessible and well-connected public transport network.

The trends and challenges set out in above should inform the policy making process in Ireland around job creation, indigenous enterprise strategy and in particular in planning for a Just Transition.