Blog and news
October 13, 2020

A Year of Uncertainty: Reflections from the 2019 World Economic Forum

This blog was first published on January 30th 2019

Brexit is looming large, but it’s not the only tale of disruption. We’ve been trying to look ahead at the unique challenge of reconciling the survival of immediate shocks with future planning. 2019 is the year of uncertainty. But this doesn’t have to prevent developing the Good Work Plan into a longer-term economic reorientation focused on building a sustainable future of better and fairer work for all. So how can we help?

Global Labour Resilience Index

At Davos last week, we worked in collaboration with Whiteshield Partners, Oxford University, HSBC and Manpower Group to launch the Global Labour Resilience Index (‘GLRI’). The index addresses a new issue: how ready are labour markets to take on technology for the benefit of everyone? The Nordic countries are in the lead but the UK still ranks 13th. This ranking will plummet in the event of a No Deal. The big take-home message from the launch (attended by Labour Ministers from Ireland, Belgium and the UAE) is that we need renewed focus on public-private-institute partnerships. Our prospectus to kick this off in 2019 is here.

National Future of Work Index

Building on work for the GLRI, IFOW has now had a first working group meeting to consider the mission and programming for a national index aimed at understanding vulnerability to shock absorption across the regions. This should promote action and better policies to deal with the negative effects of disruption, alongside job creation. We’re delighted that our Co-Chair Chris Pissarides and IFOW Advisors Professors Mike Osborne, Rose Luckin and John Evans have joined the group, with Research Fellow Katherine Stapleton.

Discrimination Task Force and Fairness Impact Framework

The debate on AI at work is often overhyped but can be surprisingly narrow. We will shortly publish a discussion paper on Equality, Technology and Work, co-authored by star Trustee Anne-Marie Imafidon, to launch two new programmes under our ‘Equality Through Transition Theme’. First, we’re establishing a discrimination task force chaired by Helen Mountfield QC which will look at how indirect discrimination law applies to machine learning models (‘ML’) such as hiring algorithms.

Second, we’ve started to develop a fairness impact assessment framework aimed at embedding equality in use of technology at individual, firm and systems levels. Drawing from our scoping workshop with the Oxford Internet Institute, the paper analyses the current state of play as to ML use in the work space. Look out for Anne-Marie’s keynote speech at the Doteverything conference on Responsible Tech.

Profit-sharing: a new database

We were invited to participate in Joseph Blasi’s legendary US conference at the Rutgers’ Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit-sharing this month. Inspired by what we heard, we’ve begun scoping options for new national statistics on the different sorts of employee ownership and profit-sharing in the UK. In the US, national statistics on ESOPs combined with others, such as wage growth and living standards, have enabled some eye-opening research on the wider implications of employment ownership. We’ll be drawing on US models in a new project is being set up in partnership with the Employee Ownership Association.  Watch this space

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