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The future of work: Towards a progressive agenda for all

Future of work / ISSUE PAPER
Claire Dhéret , Simona Guagliardo , Mihai Palimariciuc

Date: 09/12/2019
The world of work is changing, fast. Globalisation, coupled with the fragmentation of production and value chains, ageing societies, and digitalisation are all having a transformative impact on European labour markets and are putting pressure on our social welfare systems. The challenges that these disruptions pose are tremendous, and policymakers are still unsure of how to address the implications of the changing nature of work. 
In this Issue Paper, the result of the European Policy Centre research project “The future of work – Towards a progressive agenda for all”, authors Claire Dhéret, Simona Guagliardo and Mihai Palimariciuc take an in-depth look at how labour is evolving throughout Europe and put forward a set of policy recommendations for the EU, which despite its limited competences, can still be the driving force behind a progressive agenda for the future of work. 
Their analysis focuses on four different areas: the impact of new technologies on jobs in various sectors; the rise of ‘atypical’ work; the impact of labour market transformations on the welfare state and social contracts; and the effect of policy responses so far. 
Based on their findings, they argue that instead of trying to push back against new technologies and forms of work, we must embrace the changes brought on by the fourth industrial revolution. At the same time, the EU must endorse and support policies that align welfare state reform with emerging working structures and the conscious and controlled deployment of new technologies. The overall aim should be to establish an inclusive and competitive European labour market that is reinforced by future-fit social protection systems. 
Previous industrial revolutions upended traditional structures and led to widespread social malaise and suffering in the short term, despite major socio-economic gains in the long run. Many fear that this latest iteration will leave millions of people in precarious employment or even without jobs altogether. 
But this is not a given. How the future of work unfolds is still in human hands. With sound decision-making, the EU and its member states can harness the benefits of new technologies, counter the polarisation of labour markets and make sure that no one is left behind. 

Read the full paper here

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