Anticipating and managing the impact of change

28 Iúil 2021

Anticipating and managing the impact of change is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme for the 2021–2024 periodRead more

Anticipating and managing the impact of change is one of the six main activities in Eurofound’s work programme for the 2021–2024 period. Eurofound will provide evidence on structural developments affecting the EU economy and labour markets, driven largely by digitalisation and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, but also by the COVID-19 crisis. The research is intended to assist policymakers in anticipating and preparing European labour markets and workplaces for these changes.

From 2021 onwards, Eurofound will provide insights into the impact of these megatrends on living and working conditions in the EU. In the area of digitalisation, research will focus on the impact on employment and working conditions, as well as on the labour market. Areas to be covered will include social dialogue and its role in shaping structural change, regulatory frameworks, social protection and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Building on previous research on platform work, the 2021–2024 period will be an opportunity to focus on mapping and providing an assessment of the effectiveness of policy initiatives in tackling the challenges identified with platform work.

Eurofound will also aim to support the EU’s transition to a carbon-neutral economy, including the circular economy and the implementation of the EU’s recovery instrument NextGenerationEU, by investigating the socioeconomic effects. These include employment shifts and the transformation of jobs and working conditions, as well as the distributional impact of climate change policies. Some of this work will build on the results of a pilot project on the future of manufacturing (FOME) carried out by Eurofound.

To continue this work in 2021–2024, Eurofound will cooperate with various international organisations and EU agencies, for example with the European Environment Agency (EEA) in the area of social impacts of climate change policies. Furthermore, existing collaboration with other research actors in the fields of digitalisation – the Joint Research Centre (JRC), Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) and European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) – will be consolidated. Further partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) is also foreseen on the subject of the changing world of work.

 

The EU’s economy and labour markets are characterised by the impact of megatrends, notably digitalisation and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. It is important to explore how exactly these transitions are working, what is changing and how this will impact not only on companies, but also on the workforce and society.

— Irene Mandl, Head of Employment Unit

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Addressing stakeholder priorities

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Eurofound’s research aims to assist policy action to address the transitions to both a carbon-neutral economy and the digital age in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as helping to understand the impact of these changes at EU and national levels.Read more

Eurofound’s research aims to assist policy action to address the transitions to both a carbon-neutral economy and the digital age in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as helping to understand the impact of these changes at EU and national levels. For example, research on the impact of these drivers of change on the workplace level will provide insight into how to best support employers and workers so they can seize the opportunities and mitigate the challenges related to these developments. Eurofound’s research will also seek to support businesses in their efforts to adapt to a constantly evolving global economy. Furthermore, the examination of the distributional impacts of climate change policies and of measures to ensure social justice will provide knowledge to help implement the Just Transition Fund. The monitoring of reforms and recent financial support will also allow for an exchange of policy approaches and lessons learned.

The Agency’s work plan is aligned with the European Commission’s political guidelines for 2021–2024, feeding directly into a number of key policy areas aimed at creating a strong social Europe. In particular, the research will support the following Commission priorities:

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Key policy messages

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The main findings emerging from Eurofound research serve as input for policymakers to address some of the key issues in this area.

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The main findings emerging from Eurofound research serve as input for policymakers to address some of the key issues in this area.

  • Supporting employers and workers in the twin transition to the digital age and to a carbon-neutral economy is critical. In addition to these structural developments, the recent COVID-19 pandemic presents a huge challenge for the European economy and labour market.
  • New forms of employment such as platform work and ICT-based mobile work are a growing presence in European labour markets. Driven by the use of ICT, these are characterised by new types of employment relations between employer and employee, changing work organisation and work patterns. They will bring both opportunities and risks for EU labour markets facing the transition to a carbon-neutral economy and to a digital transformation against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Digital technologies are transforming work and the workplace, triggering changes on the labour market such as restructuring and job losses, and new job profiles are also starting to emerge. Task profiles in jobs are adapting because of the digitalisation of production and service provision. The result is a demand for different skills.
  • It will be important to investigate the joint effects of digitalisation and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they reinforce each other, or how the benefits of one can offset the negative effects of the other.
  • The technology-driven potential to produce, collect and use a large amount of data can improve competitiveness of European business and job quality. However, ensuring that issues like data ownership and data protection are clarified, well-regulated and implemented will be key to avoiding exploitation and unethical behaviour.
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Current and ongoing research

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In 2021, Eurofound will investigate the extent to which the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in temporary versus more sustainable change and what role social dialogue plays in shaping the structural and crisis-related change, next to mapping the impact on, for example, employment, job profiles, tasksRead more

In 2021, Eurofound will investigate the extent to which the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in temporary versus more sustainable change and what role social dialogue plays in shaping the structural and crisis-related change, next to mapping the impact on, for example, employment, job profiles, tasks and skills requirements.

Following on from Eurofound’s previous work on the digital age, research will continue to explore the impact of digitalisation on employment levels, working conditions and employment relations. Specifically, it will launch its online flagship resource on digitalisation , which will explore the major trends and policy developments regarding digitalisation in Europe, as well as the deployment of automation, digitisation and the platform economy and its impact on work and employment.

Furthermore, Eurofound will continue its research on the impact of digitalisation on working life. A specific focus will be devoted to the effects of the use of digitalisation at company level on employment and working conditions (including social protection). The human and ethical implications of automation and digitisation (for example, robotisation, wearable devices, AI and big data in the workplace) will be explored as well. As regards platform work, an assessment of selected emerging initiatives – tackling issues such as the representation of platform workers, negotiation of working conditions, provision of insurance and social protection or taxation – will be carried out. Similarly, the monitoring of the evolution of the platform economy through Eurofound’s web repository will be continued.

For its research on the impact of the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, Eurofound is exploring the distributional effects of this transition following an ad hoc request in 2020. In addition, in relation to the effects of this transition on work and employment, Eurofound will carry out a literature review to gather the available information in order to understand the current state of play. The impact of the transition to a carbon-neutral economy on societies and citizens will explore which population groups and regions are most at risk of experiencing negative impacts. Eurofound will gather evidence on how this is being tackled at Member State level. Building on these findings, a project exploring the socioeconomic impact of the transition to a carbon-neutral economy will follow.

Bridging the twin transitions to a carbon-neutral economy and the digital age, the ERM events database will be adapted to allow for the identification of large-scale restructuring cases related to digitalisation and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy, while the support instruments and legal databases will be expanded to cover national policy interventions to deal with these drivers of change.

The sections below provide access to a range of publications, data and ongoing work on this topic.

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  • Publications (148)
  • Data
  • Ongoing work (7)

Ongoing work

Research continues in this topic on a variety of themes, which are outlined below with links to forthcoming titles. 

  • Coverage of cases of transnational restructuring, relevant to current debates 

 

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