The future of work: a people-centered business agenda

The World Commission on the Future of Work has just launched its landmark report "Working Towards a Brighter Future," marking the launch of the centennial celebrations of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The report recognizes that phenomena such as big data, artificial intelligence, the digitalization of services and the robotization of industry constitute a great opportunity to generate well-being and prosperity. At the same time, they represent a structural disruption to labor markets in both advanced and developing economies.

The document makes it clear that today's skills "will not fit tomorrow's jobs and newly acquired skills may quickly become outdated."

The document makes it clear that today's skills "will not fit tomorrow's jobs and new skills acquired may quickly become outdated." Beyond technology, the response to climate change will create millions of jobs (24 million new jobs the report estimates) as we adopt sustainable practices and clean technologies; however, other jobs will disappear (six million is the estimate here) as "countries phase out their carbon-based and resource-intensive industries."

The challenges are marked with some very relevant data, including the following:

  • Employment: 344 million jobs need to be created by 2030 to end current unemployment
  • Unemployment: 190 million people are unemployed, of which 64.8 million are young people.
  • Trabajadores pobres: 300 millones de trabajadores viven en extrema pobreza (< 1,90 dólares/día)
  • Health: 2.78 million people die each year as a result of occupational accidents or diseases.
  • Working time: 36.1 percent of the world's labor force works excessive hours (more than 48 hours per week).
  • Gender pay gap: Women are paid about 20 percent less than men.

It is clear that there is considerable uncertainty as to how to deal with this transition. A year ago, the WEF's Eight Futures of Work already outlined eight complementary (not exclusive) scenarios for the future of work. Now, in its new report, the ILO sets out three axes to respond to these challenges:

  1. Increasing investment in people's capabilities: ensuring lifelong learning, assisting workers' transitions, ensuring gender equality as well as social protection.
  2. Increasing investment in labor institutions: establishing a universal labor guarantee, improving work-life balance, ensuring social dialogue, and adopting a "human-controlled" approach to technology.
  3. Increasing investment in decent and sustainable work: closing gaps and establishing incentives for companies to carry out long-term investment strategies.

In this context, companies are part of the solution to contribute to a future where people are at the center of corporate decisions. A future where the advancement of technology makes a positive contribution to people's lives and also contributes to equal access to new opportunities.

To accompany the response to this challenge in Spain, Forética is leading the Enterprise 2020 project : The future of work, which is a platform that shows examples in Spain of leading companies that incorporate technology, considering ethical criteria in their decisions, as well as maximizing positive impacts, both environmental and social. It also promotes good practices that boost the employability and talent of young people, through STEM skills or the promotion of the link between education and business.

A major campaign in collaboration with the Ministry of Labor, Migration and Social Security and twelve regional governments (Aragón, Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León, Extremadura, Galicia, Generalitat de Catalunya, Balearic Islands, La Rioja, Community of Madrid, Region of Murcia and Community of Valencia) and the Cabildo de Tenerife, together with companies and other relevant agents of society. An initiative that will undoubtedly contribute to identifying and promoting business solutions in Spain focused on social responsibility, as well as sharing tools, strategies and business models capable of making a significant contribution to a more people-centered future of work.

This text was initially published last January 23, 2019 on You can read it here.

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