Social Europe & Well-being

The future of work - Towards a progressive agenda for all


Globalisation, automation, digitalisation, and artificial intelligence are among the many levers that are transforming the world of work and fuelling a controversial debate about prospects for labour markets, people and society at large. In the public debate, the ‘future of work’ concept sparks anxiety and resistance as it is often associated with fewer jobs, increased precariousness, rising inequality, and a polarised labour market.

These fears are partly justified since some people appear ill-equipped to reap the benefits of ongoing transformations. The situation calls for significant policy reforms and adjustments, without which transformative change will continue to heighten the pressure on the social fabric of our communities. It could also provide a breeding ground for nationalist or populist reactions.

Against this background, the EPC wants to reverse the narrative about the future of work by launching a new project called ‘The future of work: towards a progressive agenda for all’. We strongly believe that the impact of the fourth industrial revolution is not pre-determined. On the contrary, it hinges on how societies and communities will anticipate the change and manage its outcome.

The research project will gather evidence of good practices and solutions that are addressing the challenges of the ‘future of work’. More specifically, it will focus on two main areas:

  1. The impacts of technological change on certain sectors and the overall structure of the labour market.
  2. The new foundation for our social protection system in light of labour market transformation.

While the first axis will be supported by a series of events, research on the second area will be carried out via a dedicated task force to be launched in May 2018.

EPC Task Force on ‘Social protection in the 21st century’

This EPC task force will seek to:

  • Identify the impacts of labour market transformation on the functioning of the welfare state.
  • Assess the extent to which ongoing reforms are filling the existing gaps (or not).
  • Define the role of stakeholders in better equipping workers for a changing labour market.
  • Draw recommendations for social protection in the 21st century.

The end goal is to formulate concrete policy recommendations that can feed EU decision-making. The variety of experts, academics, policymakers, employers, practitioners, social partners and innovators will lend legitimacy to our proposed action plan.

The task force will contribute to the ongoing debate about the social dimension of the European project by exploring how to make the European economic and social model fit for the future. The Task Force will build on previous work conducted by the EPC’s Social Europe and Well-Being Programme on social investment and the inclusiveness of labour markets.

The task force is supported by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CESI), Zurich Insurance and the World Employment Confederation.

For more information regarding ‘The future of work’ project and the task force on social protection, please contact Claire Dhéret, Head of Social Europe & Well-being Programme, at c.dheret@epc.eu

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