Blog and news
October 7, 2024

IFOW July 2024 Newsletter | The View from IFOW

Following Friday’s General Election result, we want to extend our congratulations to the new government and all our new MPs, given the strongest mandate for action seen since 2001. The Chancellor’s first speech this week reinforces the new government’s intention to make long-term, foundational change, including investment in the creation of good work across the country and the critical infrastructure needed for delivery.

Access to ‘good work’ as the world of work transforms, the creation of new, good jobs in growth areas and the improvement of work quality and security across all sectors of the everyday economy are the golden thread running through the Labour manifesto, connecting and driving the Labour missions.

At IFOW, with a strategy and programmes which are closely aligned with these new priorities and a mission-oriented approach to government, we are producing some of the most cutting-edge material relevant to delivery. Lots of the issues we face as a nation require long term thinking and joined up working. Our work since inception has had that at the heart.

We are ready to support the new administration to develop and implement their commitments in the most ambitious and enduring way possible, maximising opportunities for everyone and addressing some of the most pressing challenges we face as a society.

Anna, Abby and the IFOW team

Deep Dive - 100 Days to build a Future of Fairer Work

The newly elected government has hit the ground running, reflecting commitments to building strong foundations, kick-starting economic growth and breaking down barriers to opportunity.

Here, based on the Labour Manifesto, we’ve selected some of the most important areas for attention in the First 100 Days, including setting up some of the new institutions and architecture needed to shape a better, fairer future of work across the country.

Good work and growth

The Chancellor’s first speech highlights the role of a ‘modern industrial strategy to create good work and drive investment in all of our communities.’ Signalling her understanding of good work as a precondition and outcome of sustained, inclusive growth, the Chancellor connects the changing world of work to her move towards long-term planning, reform of the skills system, tackling inequality and rebalancing power between national, regional and local leaders.

We anticipate that the remit and functions of the new Fund and statutory Industrial Council, as well as the Growth Mission Board and Delivery Unit and reformed British Business Bank, will feature good work experts, targets and measures prominently.

Anna and Lucy Powell MP at our Pissarides Review conference, January 2023  
The Future of Work and Regional Power

IFOW has long argued that Combined Authorities and groups of local authorities should be able to co-create and implement Growth and Future of Work Strategies. We are therefore delighted to see early signalling that powers and funding to the regions will be expedited. These should lead to delivery of 10-year growth and future of work strategies designed in response to local strengths and challenges, empowering local areas to unlock bottlenecks and establish context-sensitive, regional innovation ecosystems from transformative public investment, building supply chains to career pathways.

We know that improving regional infrastructure will be crucial to unleashing the potential of people and places. Here too, building an environment needed to shape a better future of work in which people are supported to build their skills and capabilities provides a helpful frame and focus for the next phase of devolution, which should feature in the King’s Speech. The National Infrastructure and Service Authority should, we think, cover data, digital and innovation as well as physical infrastructures, and take into account the potential to create good, local jobs directly, and through procurement.

A New Deal

We anticipate the announcement of an Employment Bill in the King’s Speech, supported by increasing evidence base about the medium and longer-term advantages of improving the baseline of protection for pay, terms and security, flexibility and disconnect from digital communications. Our new research suggests this will also help with positive perspectives, trust and understanding of technology so there will be immediate, beneficial 'secondary' effects for employers, as well as improvements to workforce wellbeing and engagement. Partnership work with both employers and unions suggests that the New Deal should be seen as a crucial part of tackling imbalances in wealth, information and power between the digital giants and British SMEs, as well as working people and the giants.

Justin Madders MP at IFOW/Digit workshop on labour law, April 2024

To ensure support for SMEs, effective implementation and alignment with the growth mission, in particular, the Employment Bill should therefore extend to higher levels of information, consultation and assessment of impacts on good work, at a firm, union and individual level. It should be seen alongside other commitments to overcome frictions, rebalance access to information in the interests of people and the public, such as a public data infrastructure and library.

An ambitious programme for this traditional first 100-day period then. We look forward to engaging with the new government and offering the research expertise we have accrued to help deliver a fairer future of work for all.

Interesting reads/listens

Technology and Job Quality: Insights from a UK survey

Our latest report "From Technology Exposure to Job Quality" reveals that technology impacts job quality and employee well-being differently. Digital ICTs like laptops enhance life quality, whereas wearables and AI may reduce well-being. Job insecurity linked to new technologies often negates potential benefits. The study emphasises the need for deliberate management of technology integration to improve job quality effectively.

Harnessing collective intelligence technology to drive better futures of work

The Blind app, launched in South Korea in 2013, allows employees to anonymously share workplace stories, fostering transparency and whistleblowing. Its success led to an English version for American tech firms, significantly impacting companies like Uber by revealing internal issues.  

In our latest blog, Mike Prentice, explores how the potential introduction of a similar app in the UK could revolutionise workplace communication, enhance transparency, and improve corporate accountability.

The impact of artificial intelligence on labour markets: A comprehensive analysis from algorithms to bytes to chips

Social Science Research Network’s latest paper, investigates the multifaceted impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies on labour markets. It examines how AI adoption affects employment dynamics, wages, and job polarisation across different sectors and regions. The study synthesises empirical findings and theoretical perspectives to analyse both the opportunities and challenges posed by AI in reshaping the future of work. It explores potential policy responses to mitigate negative consequences and promote inclusive growth in an AI-driven economy. The paper underscores the importance of understanding AI's transformative effects on labour markets to inform effective policymaking and societal adaptation strategies.

Can an AI interviewer hire better than a human?  

In this podcast episode of the Financial Times’ Working It, host Isabel Berwick first speaks with founder of micro1, Ali Ansari, who reveals that their AI interviewer is actively conducting thousands of job interviews. Later in the program, Isabel engages in conversation with co-CEO of Eightfold, Chano Fernandez, where they discuss how their AI technology is enhancing both candidate recruitment and the alignment of employees with suitable career trajectories.

Transcript of the audio can be found here.

Dominance and dangers of excel in modern decision-making

Spreadsheet Assassins debates the pervasive influence of Microsoft Excel within modern workplaces, highlighting its role amidst the broader shift towards Software as a Service (SaaS). It argues that Excel's dominance in SaaS environments has led to a simplification of decision-making processes, often at the expense of specialised expertise and nuanced judgment. The article critiques how SaaS tools like Excel can homogenise thought processes and reinforce corporate hierarchies, potentially limiting organizational creativity and strategic agility.  

Ethical considerations in AI and autonomous systems

This paper from Springer explores the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Autonomous Systems (AS). It critically reviews existing literature to analyse various ethical challenges posed by these technologies, such as privacy concerns, biases in algorithms, and the potential impact on societal values. The authors discuss frameworks and guidelines proposed to address these issues, emphasising the importance of transparency, accountability, and fairness in AI/AS development and deployment.  

Unveiling the influence of Algorithms: Code-Dependent by Madhumita Murgia

Code-Dependent explores the profound impact of algorithms and digital technologies on our lives, economies, and societies. The book discusses how algorithms shape everything from our online experiences to major global issues like economic inequality and political polarization. Murgia examines the power dynamics inherent in technology companies and debates the ethical implications of their influence on democracy and individual autonomy.

Events

Assessing the New Labour Government's Outlook (11 July, 9:45 AM - 11 AM, London & online)

This session, hosted by The Resolution Foundation, will dig into the political and economic prospects of the newly elected Labour Government. The discussion will cover economic growth, poverty reduction, planning reforms, and workplace conditions.

Register here.

Building a roadmap for progressive UK tech policy (16 July, 1 PM - 4:30 PM, Barbican Centre)

This half-day workshop, hosted by Careful Industries, Connected By Data, the Minderoo Centre for Technology and Democracy, and ZoomInfo at the Barbican Centre, will explore and shape ideas for technology policy under a new UK government. Participants from civil society, academia, industry, and government will discuss the Data Bill, AI White Paper, and other initiatives, determining what should be retained, revised, or introduced. The goal is to create a cohesive policy framework that aligns technology with societal benefits. For more information, click here.

UK Spectrum Policy Forum July Plenary 2024  (24 July, 2 PM – 4 PM, Tech UK, London & online)  

The July Plenary will introduce a new independent study focusing on sharing Defence spectrum and establishing a licensing framework for public sector spectrum access in the UK. LS telcom consultants, who conducted the study, will present findings on these topics, exploring innovations and potential new use cases.

Register here.  

Dive into AI for film and TV (ongoing)

Director, Producer and AI educator Cassie Quarless (who has led AI focused workshops for Directors UK, Screen Skills, Creative UK and many others) has recently released an AI course specially designed for those in the TV, film, and content industries. The course distils years of teaching, writing and thinking into 40+ lessons and 20+ exercises.  

The course offers invaluable knowledge about how to use AI tools for research, storyboarding, and even deploying a chatbot on your own computer amongst many other things. The course usually costs £400 but he is offering 50% off for sign-ups before the 15th of July. You can access it here: Course

And find out more about his organisation The TV AI Guide here: https://tvaiguide.com/

Better Local Data, Better Local Decisions  (16 July, 11 AM – 12 PM, Online)  

Local data plays a crucial role in evidence-based policymaking. Join Centre for Cities at their upcoming event, inspired by their recent publication, L.A. Evidential. Hear insights from ONS Local and a local authority on the evolution of local data in the UK, its applications for local authorities, and the ongoing challenges in leveraging data and evidence.

Register here.

Thank you for your time and interest.

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If you have any ideas, comments or suggestions for future round-ups, please drop us a line at team@ifow.org.

Author

Anna Thomas MBE

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