Blog and news
January 4, 2021

IFOW Newsletter March 2021 | The View from IFOW

This month we launched the 2021 Global Labour Market Resilience Index with Whiteshield Partners and Oxford Saiid Business School. The index, which breaks down countries’ structural and cyclical capabilities, found the UK had the 12th most resilient labour market in the world. Our performance is slipping because foundational problems, including high levels of insecure work, inequalities and declining vocational training, haven’t been addressed. But the real story of resilience come from responses at a local level to fill national policy gaps - and a clear recommendation of the report is greater devolution.

Our conversations with local partners echo this call. We’ve been speaking to combined authorities about lessons from our Good Work Monitor, and road-mapping how this might inform asks for the forthcoming Devolution White Paper. This has bolstered our belief that an overarching Work 5.0 strategy is critical to unite different interests and drive prosperity and wellbeing in the longer term. It’s also the ideal complement to the Build Back Better Business Council announced yesterday, enabling strategic thinking, independent evaluation and a partnership approach - things we might otherwise miss following the demise of the Industrial Strategy.

Investment took a spontaneous turn to prioritise work quality this week, with news of disinvestment in Deliveroo ahead of their IPO on grounds of labour standards. We’ve also seen cross bench support this month for a new move to ingrain and incentivise good work into ESG impact investment via amendments to the Financial Services Bill. You can see contributions from Lord Robin Hodgson and new APPG on the Future of Work co-chair, Lord Jim Knight here and here.

Have a good week,


Anna Thomas
Institute for the Future of Work

Deep Dive

The TUC has published their manifesto for change to secure dignity at work in an age of AI and detailed legal advice written by employment lawyers Robin Allen QC and Dee Masters of the AI Law Hub. Employment law is failing to keep pace with rapid expansion of AI at work and amendments are needed to the Equality Act and UK Data Protection Regulation (GPDR) to guard against discriminatory algorithms, the report warns.

Building on research in Technology Managing People, the recommendations have plenty in common with our Equality Task Force report, advising a strengthened role for unions; greater transparency and explainability of automated decisions; and clearer mechanisms of human involvement and human review. It goes further to flag an important new challenge: ensuring that our trade agreements do not prohibit greater algorithmic transparency. But the report stops short of support for a new overarching framework to advance accountability for algorithms beyond the scope of employment law, as we discuss here.

Interesting Reads

Calls this from the heart of the establishment are made for a renewed social contract this month, driven by the plight of Generation Z. Contributions from Mark Carney and Minouche Shafik, ‘Values’ and ‘What We Owe Each Other’ are summarised in this article.

A Demos report on ‘Post Pandemic Places’ found that 65% of the working population were forced to change their place of work during 2020 and of these, 79% want to continue to have some form of remote working in future. The Work Trends Index mirrors these findings and asks: are we ready for the next great disruption of hybrid work?

The Women in the AI and Data Science team at the Alan Turing Institute’s project on, led by our Equality Task Force’s Helen Margett’s, has launched a report mapping the gaping gender job gap in our data science workforce: Report: Where are the women? Mapping the gender job gap in AI

The Futures at Work Research Centre has posted it's Digital Debate Series online, including the latest debate featuring ETUI’s talking algorithmic surveillance.

And we’ve learned that ICTs can fundamentally reorganise capital and labor markets, according to this academic comparison of the ride-hailing industry (“Uberisation”) in the US, Sweden, Germany, India, Indonesia, China, and Nigeria. Read more here.

Upcoming Events

We’re excited to announce that the Institute for the Future of Work will be curating the ‘Future of Work’ stage at the 2021 CogX Festival. The ‘Future of Work’ stage will be taking place on the 14th June and will focus on the question: how do we get the next 10 years right? More information about CogX Festival here. Stay tuned for further announcements.

Professor Rose Luckin is leading a debate with Priya Lakhan, Mathew Taylor and others on ‘Catching the creative wave: digital learning post lockdown’ at the RSA at 6pm tonight. Book here.

The Alan Turing Institute is hosting a lecture at 15:30 on Wednesday 7th April ‘The changing role of national statistics offices in a data-driven future’ with the UK's National Statistician, Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Institute Director, Professor Sir Adrian Smith and Ethics Research Fellow, Dr Mhairi Aitken. Read more here.

The Economist’s Callum Williams is discussing the effects of the pandemic on the future of work and wellbeing with Avantika Chilkoti at 4pm on 8 April. Reserve your place here.

Chatham House are hosting a Business in Focus event on ‘Ensuring an Equitable Workforce Post-COVID’ on 23 April. Anna Thomas  is speaking with Anu Madgavkar, McKinsey Global Institute; Henriette Kolb, Head Gender and Economic Inclusion Group, International Finance Corporation; and Robbie Sinclair, Allen & Overy. More information here.


Anna Thomas MBE


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