Jobs in the digital age

12 Mar 2019 09:00h - 10:00h

Event report

[Read more session reports and live updates from the OECD Going Digital Summit]

The session moderated by Mr Stefano Scarpetta (Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, OECD) featured discussions on the future of work and how to ensure jobs in the digital age.

Ms Justine Cassell (Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University) started her speech by saying that we have to avoid falling into technological determinism in these discussions. She believes that nowadays the necessity of hard skills is decreasing while social skills are increasing. Cassell said that she is developping technology that does not replace people, but collaborates and co-operates with people. Finally, she talked about the education system. Currently, people are put into boxes and they learn related topics and how to pass tests. According to her, this way of learning kills the creativity and the possibility of collaboration with other people, and does not teach us how to learn.

In his speech Mr David Weil (Dean, Brandeis University) said that it is possible to see inequalities in the US and that they are impacting people’s earnings. He believes that one of the applications of digital technologies is to improve the welfare of the workers. Weil said that it is necessary to think about who is responsible for reskilling and retraining people nowadays. According to him, in the past, the employer was responsible, but things are changing fast now and it is difficult to put all the responsibility on the companies. In the end, Weil talked about the importance of thinking about education for new jobs.

Ms Natasha Friis Saxberg (Digital Strategist, Author and Board Member) talked about the role of value-based leadership in transforming the workforce and empowering employees. She said that currently, society is focused on digital transformation, but the most important thing is a cultural transformation focused on building values, such as ethical norms and diversity. Saxberg thinks that many companies are investing much more in technologies than in workforce training. According to her, we need to build a ‘humanocracy’ instead of a bureaucracy. Finally, she claimed that there are opportunities to involve multiple stakeholders in finding solutions related to the future of work.

Mr Thiébaut Weber (Confederal Secretary, ETUC) talked about the importance of technologies to promote a safer workplace. He gave an example of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to avoid some occupational diseases and risks. Another example presented was AI that scans for CVs to help employees find workers. Weber believes that there are huge inequalities in the training access of people working in big and small companies. According to him, policymakers are observing the trends and thinking of solutions for the inequalities found, but there are problems bigger than lifelong education, such as the taxation system in the EU.

Mr Timo Lindholm (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland) said that this topic is a challenge from the policy point of view. According to him, Finland has efficient social public services. He presented some ideas that they are developing in the country, such as a job marketplace platform to match job seekers and employers, as well as a real estate platform. Lindholm talked about Finland investing in helping companies to become digital and in bringing more start-ups to the country. He believes that work is a place to learn because it requires learning something new all the time. At the end of his speech, he said that a different mindset is necessary to deal with jobs in the digital age.


By Nathalia Sautchuk Patricio