Challenges and opportunities: How will technology reshape jobs

13 Nov 2018 11:45h - 13:15h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the 13th Internet Governance Forum]

Digital tools are changing the way of doing jobs. This session aimed to understand the challenges within the context of actual countries, and the global perspectives of technological development. One of the challenges faced is the lack of education in digital skills.

The moderator, Ms Adela Goberna, Asociación Latinoamericana de Internet (ALAI), started by presenting the panellists and explained the purpose of this session on how digital tools are reshaping jobs. She highlighted the impacts of technology on future jobs. According to her, it is important to understand how we can use technology for our benefit, to create quality jobs, and have an impact on productivity.

Ms Ana Ines Basco, INTAL, Latin America, joining remotely started by talking about soft-hard skills, and the impact of new technologies on trade, regional integration, and education. She noted the skills gaps in Latin American countries and emphasised the meaning of ‘technosapiens’. According to her, there is also a gender gap in South America. She pointed to the role of robots in changing jobs in the next years, for example in the manufacturing area.

Moreover, she said that 80% of Latin Americans have mobile phones with Internet access. According to Basco, the skills where there are gaps are growing in demand. She talked about a survey conducted in Latin America. Only 22% of Latin Americans think that digital creation skills will be essential for teachers in the next twenty years. Despite this, 65% of them think that Internet access is important. Finally, she said that this technological tsunami would be accompanied by more employment, more economic growth, and more development.

Ms Maarit Palovirta, Internet Society (ISOC), started by explaining that there is currently a kind of negativity around the Internet for example about the privacy issues. She noted how the Internet contributes to economic growth. She talked about e-commerce as a transition from a traditional retail sector, from high streets and actual physical shops, to online shopping. According to her, digital business is creating jobs in transport, trade, etc. Moreover, she emphasised the role of data centres in Europe. 

Furthermore, Palovirta pointed to the sharing economy. She noted this so-called Uberisation, of how the Uber company is reducing the unemployment of taxi drivers. Start-ups are changing the digital business model and trying to create more jobs. Palovirta said that Finland has created 1.9% and the United States 1.2% of jobs related to app development. According to her, we need to give attention to digital skills. She said that there is a huge gap between developed countries and developing countries in the digital economy. Finally, she pointed to the coming Global Internet Report, in January 2019, as one of the tools in measuring the impact of the new technologies on the economy.

Mr David Autor, UNESCO, started by explaining that knowledge societies are one of the activities of UNESCO. He noted that young people need to understand the ecosystem of new technologies. He said that digital technology goes faster than the education system. He mentioned developing some programmes at UNESCO, and partnering other people’s efforts. He said that there is a huge risk of the polarisation of jobs. Many of the new economic jobs are filling some immediate needs, but it is not very clear yet what are the consequences in the long term.

The session ended by highlighting regulation and policy issues, public policy, and how we can actually tackle the creation of new jobs, technology and non-technology related, by capacity building, and how we can use the education sector to empower the new labour force.


By Gilles D. Bana