The digital age: opportunities and challenges for work and employment

20 September 2017

The capacity of humankind to store, transmit and manipulate information has expanded hugely in recent years as a result of innovations in computing and telecommunication technologies. Such information and communication technologies (ICTs) are having significant effects in almost all areas of the economy, leading to a general acceleration in the pace of technical change. At the same time, work, its content, its organisation and design, its regulation and protection, are all undergoing great change in this digital age. These changes also often bring a blurring of boundaries between different dimensions of work and between work, employment and non-work activity.

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Policymakers need to gain knowledge that will help to address questions about effective regulation, how to ensure social protection in its broadest sense and balancing the demands of companies, societies and individuals in exploiting the great potential of digitalisation.

Eurofound's work

Eurofound is looking at the broader implications for working conditions, labour regulation and beyond of the increasing scale and scope of digital technologies for the labour market. The employment impact of the automation of services will be explored. Eurofound will also examine the implications of the sharing economy for the labour market, trying to map the contours of this new ICT-based economy across Europe.

It will investigate the nature of employment in the digital age, with a focus on the opportunities but also on the policy challenges associated with the specific forms of employment ( and working conditions) which are new or expanding as a result of technological change, for example 'e-nomads' (ICT-based mobile workers), or the role of social partners in the context of new digital age realities or in influencing the shape of the digital economy.

The overall aim is to provide a forward-looking analysis of trends, to support the policy debate by developing plausible scenarios, taking into account different growth models and outlining what the future world of work could look like.

Ongoing work

  • Background paper on Work and Employment in the Digital Age
  • Case studies on game-changing technologies in services
  • Quantitative study on the automation of services
  • Working conditions of specific groups, specifically ‘e-nomads’
  • Research on crowd employment
  • Case studies on ICT-based mobile work (2018)
  • Social dialogue in the digital age

Preparations are also underway for a fourth wave of Eurofound's European Company Survey (ECS), jointly with our sister Agency, the European Centre for Vocational Education and Training (Cedefop). The new wave will include questions on digitalisation of work.

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