OECD: Digitalization, Globalization, and ageing bring opportunities but also risks widening disparities between workers  

Key international organizations, national governments, leading policy think tanks and universities engage in the studies and discussions about the impact of digitalization (automation of work), new business models, demographic changes (population growth in developing countries and aging in developed ones), climate change and globalization on jobs, nature of work and ultimately, social sustainability in our societies. These megatrends contribute to growing disparities in income and concerns about increasing inequalities of the access to the opportunities, benefits and pay-offs of globalization and liberalization of the markets in goods, services and free movement of people. There is an urgent need for policy action to support equitable and just transformation, a more equal sharing of the costs of the structural adjustment and increase the responsiveness of the social and economic systems to a rapidly changing societal context. 

2019 OECD Employment Outlook "The Future of Work focuses on the impact of the megatrends, mainly digitalization and new forms of business and labor, on the jobs and skills on the labor markets in the OECD economies. The study estimates that 40% of jobs created between 2005 and 2016 were created in the technology-intensive sector, whereas 6 out of 10 workers do not have basic ICT skills. The Report reveals the phenomenon, that in all the OECD economies training participation is the lowest among those who need training most - including low-skilled, unemployed, low-income self-employed, adult workers. There is an urgent need in strengthening adult learning in the context of (i) the aging workforce in developed economies and (ii) growing inequalities (iii) growing technological competition between developed and developing economies.  Both private and public sector need to join their efforts and provide effective training opportunities corresponding to the changing needs of the labor markets. 


The OECD Report also underscores the importance of maintaining decent social protections for workers. Consensual solutions and collective bargaining can contribute to developing and establishing new social and labor rights, regulations and protections of the workers. "Non-standard" workers (self-employed, workers that offer their services and works through the technological platforms) experience difficulties in collective bargaining when it comes to new forms of labor and businesses. There is a need to develop the strategies to reach and embrace non-standard workers and develop new forms of the worker's representation that would reflect the new economic realities and changing nature of work, a different allocation of the risks and costs of labor which shifted from the corporate to individual agency. The changing context of doing business requires profound and significant changes in tax systems that would be able to respond to the needs of maintaining decent social protection for new types of workers and provide the training opportunities to the adult learners.  

The topic should be of the particular interest for the students who take the courses in labor rights and have an interest in social sustainability, disruption, and social innovation. Developed and developing countries have different policy agendas for the "Future of Work", but both do have at stake social sustainability issues to be solved through effective policy interventions.  Inequalities are increasing globally and require effective policies to address them.

Recently the OECD has launched the campaign  "I am the Future of Work" to highlight what the future of work means for people and the urgency to build a future that works for all. The OECD invites everyone to contribute and have her/his say. Join and have your say here 

Today, the OECD includes 36 Member countries -- many of the world’s most advanced countries but also emerging countries like Mexico, Chile, and Turkey. It develops cooperation with most dynamic developing economies such as China, India, and Brazil and developing economies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.  

By Katsiaryna Serada



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