The future of work has received tremendous attention in recent years from scholars, politicians and the general public, fuelled by the rapid transformations of the world of work. Demographic shifts, technological innovation, institutional reforms and global economic integration are all changing the way people work. Technological innovations have a major impact on occupations and industries, changing the ways that economies in different world regions, and in both developed and developing countries, work along with new division of labours that are facilitated by global economic integration. From a global perspective, there is a growing diversity in terms of job types ranging from permanent formal employment to different forms of nonstandard work and informality. This diversity is associated with growing job and economic insecurity on the part of individual workers. The extent to which precarious work translates into precarious lives depends on national and international labour market institutions and policies. In order to strike a new balance between flexibility for employers and security for workers, we need to address core policy areas such as education, training at different stages of life, collective bargaining and wage setting, and also the role of labour market regulation, social protection and active labour market policies. All of these key areas need to be examined at global, national, regional and sectoral levels.
This paper is based on the joint work within the International Panel on Social Progress. It highlights three main areas of attention: a) skill formation, d) the challenges to collective bargaining, and e) social protection and labour market policies. Based on an assessment of the existing evidence, the paper suggests some policy principles and concrete policy options that might further those objectives, not ignoring some tensions that might exist between flexibility and security in the different labour markets. The ultimate direction of reforms in line with an idea of social progress lies in institutional arrangements that facilitate the reconciliation of flexibility and productivity with access to decent jobs and social protection. We argue that distinct policy options are available that can be implemented more globally in order to achieve these goals simultaneously.