The Future of jobs – taking stock of the global scene

07 Dec 2017


Over 100 labour market experts from all over the world met in Bergamo near Milan at the weekend to discuss the future of work and evolving employment landscapes. The ADAPT conference, now in its third year, is an annual gathering of some of the world’s leading labour market experts. The conference provided a unique opportunity to the REC to take forward key messages from our Future of jobs commission report and to take stock of global perspectives.

Industry 4.0

As the world prepares for the fourth industrial revolution – known as Industry 4.0 – there has never been a better time to discuss the practical implications for jobs and the recruitment industry’s role. Industry 4.0 encompasses a set of technological, social, economic and cultural changes that call into question the traditional educational models, work organisation patterns, welfare schemes and infrastructure planning. This fourth industrial revolution has the potential to raise global income levels and improve the quality of life; as well as changing the way we work and how we prepare people for work.

The next generation

Preparing the next generation for the future jobs market was a key theme of the conference. Annemarie Muntz, President of the World Employment Confederation, highlighted the need for soft skills to be embedded in school curriculums, and said that “five years from now, over one-third of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.”

Building a better bridge between education and the world of work is a key recommendation in our Future of jobs report. One priority is to ensure that we can learn from other countries’ and regions’ approaches. For example, life-long learning is embedded into law in the Basque Country, where citizens are given a ‘life-long learning account’ to help them train and re-train throughout their working life. There is also a Europe-wide drive to invest in the training of agency workers, particularly those that are low-skilled.

There are major discrepancies in the way that countries approach broader employment issues – for example, Italy doesn’t have a national minimum wage with pay being agreed through collective bargaining agreements on a job-to-job basis. However, there was broad agreement that ‘diversity of contracts’ is the new norm, as this provides important outlets for workers as well as employers.

The future…

The so-called ‘new new’ technologies might change the way we will work, although the feeling is that digitisation will not impact jobs per se, but rather tasks. Workers will have to deal with new digital tools or new ways of operating within their current jobs. This reinforces the need for a flexible mind-set to fully embrace life-long learning.

What was clear from the conference is that the future of work is a leading topic not just for businesses but also for national governments and within academic circles. Taking part in the Bergamo conference was an important milestone. We will continue to work closely with the World Employment Confederation, as well as with leading international institutions such as the OECD, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Economic Forum. The REC’s Future of jobs commission will help to ensure that the recruitment industry’s voice remains at the forefront of the future of work debate, not just in the in the UK but also globally.

You can download the REC Future of jobs report here and keep up to date with our activities at #FutureOfJobs

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