What is the Future of Work?

The world of work is experiencing major changes as a result of digitalisation, the growth of the digital economy and technological advances. Coupled with profound changes in the organisation of work, globalisation, demographic changes, environmental challenges, as well as new ways of organising the production of goods and the delivery of services, the Future of Work encompasses all those dynamic processes and its repercussions on business and employment.

Why is the Future of Work relevant to business?

The Future of Work is already shaping our lives, providing society and businesses with opportunities, as well as challenges. Businesses and workers are adapting to the important changes in the world of work; automation, for example, will likely mean existing jobs or tasks could disappear or be fundamentally re-designed. Major changes will be needed in the capabilities and skills required by the labour market. As a consequence, all aspects of employment need to be adapted, including through policies allowing businesses to seize the potential of the Future of Work and ensure that the digitalisation of economies leads to more and better work opportunities, increased productivity and stronger sustainable growth. 

What is the IOE’s position on the Future of Work?

The IOE considers the discussion on the Future of Work as a fundamental means for governments, workers and employers to shape the policies that will allow everyone to thrive.

Renewed policies should be developed as a priority in three areas:

1. The changing nature of work:

  • Regulations and institutions need to keep up with changes in the labour market;
  • Informal work (operating outside the formal reach of the law, with no or limited social security coverage) has to be addressed;
  • Social protections and social benefits need to be more inclusive.

2. Skills for the future

3. Governance of work

How does the IOE’s work on the Future of Work advance the agenda for business?

The IOE is in the front line to reflect the business and employers’ perspective on digitalisation, innovation, new business models, and all other changes affecting employment and the world of work.

The IOE has dedicated more than two years to debating this topic and will continue to do so. With a taskforce of employers’ organisations and companies, the IOE has drafted “Understanding the Future of Work”, a living document for members to use in their national discussions and policy debates.

The IOE represents the employers’ views in Future of Work policy debates at national, regional and international levels, notably in the UN, the ILO, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in support of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC). To a certain extent, the IOE has been in the avant garde on this topic in many regions of the world.

The IOE is currently supporting the participation of Mr. Mthunzi Mdwaba, the Spokesperson for the Employers’ Group at the ILO, as ex-officio member of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work. The Commission brings together twenty-four eminent personalities from a wide range of backgrounds to dialogue, and to build the ILO’s ability to prepare and guide governments, workers and employers to better meet the world of work challenges.

The IOE organises workshops and conferences to further explore the policy responses needed and fosters brainstorming and experience exchange among employers in its Future of Work Policy Working Group.