Framing the Future of Work

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Christensen, Luc
D’Souza, Ritika
Gatti, Roberta V.
Digital technologies affect employment through complex channels: automation, connectivity, and innovation. Labor-saving technologies coupled with reshoring may disrupt labor markets in developing countries and result in job losses. Yet, technological change drives productivity gains in both white-collar and blue-collar jobs either through ICT uptake or modern mechanical technologies. The ‘gig economy’ changes the traditional employer-employee relationship as it introduces new types of work. Digital platforms increase flexibility and labor market transparency, but delink workers from employers and from social benefits and protections making them more vulnerable. Policymakers in rich and poor countries alike should rethink social protection mechanisms. Technology diffusion has created divided worlds varying by region and income level. Job automation is likely to have a greater impact on less skilled workers than those with a university education (40 percent versus 5 percent in OECD countries). Moving towards a digital economy will reward those with access to broadband connectivity, strong institutions, and digital literacy. Future workers must acquire basic IT skills together with socio emotional skills that adapt to a lifelong learning environment in a changing jobs landscape. Technology can also increase labor market access for women and persons with disabilities, given the right ‘analog’ complements are in place. Technological change will affect the number, quality, and distribution of jobs across the world. In developing countries, the future workforce should be ready to embrace technology, digital literacy, and connectedness—bringing everyone closer to the technological frontier.
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Christensen, Luc; D’Souza, Ritika; Gatti, Roberta V.; Valerio, Alexandria; Sanchez Puerta, Maria Laura; Palacios, Robert J.. 2018. Framing the Future of Work. Jobs Notes;No. 6. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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