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June 30, 2022

IFOW Newsletter June 2022 | The view from IFOW

Dear Friends of IFOW,

This month, Britain's RMT Union took action over pay and conditions with rail strikes across the UK. Professor Chris Pissarides, who is leading the Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing, spoke to CNBC about how the strikes offer a sign of things to come, with labour markets going through 'some of the most difficult periods' he has seen. Chris also recently spoke with Delphine Strauss of the Financial Times about debt, inflation and the labour market, as well as our Review - read the full interview.

To learn more from Professor Pissarides and other experts on how automation technologies are transforming work, society and the economy, register to join us on Monday 12 September at our full-day hybrid conference on the future of work and wellbeing.    

We're also delighted to announce the next All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Work event, which will explore key questions when it comes to flexible working. This hybrid event is being held at 1 Parliament Street, with limited capacity to join in-person, which is reserved for members of the APPG on the Future of Work in the first instance. The event is open for all to attend via Zoom, and a recording of the session will be available shortly after.

If you're interested in joining the APPG on the Future of Work, you can find out more on the APPG website.
Best wishes,

Anna and the Institute for the Future of Work team

Anna Thomas
Institute for the Future of Work

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Deep dive – Skills for the future workforce

Tech Week on skills and lifelong learning: The Great Resignation: Surviving the Talent Shortage at the Future of Work Summit, and How to prepare your workforce for new realities at CogX 2022.

Recent vacancy data shows that employers are finding it harder than ever to recruit. The panels discussed the pronounced skills mismatch in the UK, reflecting the disconnect between what employers say they need, and workers who report that full use of their skills at work is growing in importance but often underused in practice. Boosting the co-development of skills programmes at work, use of AI to support progression pathways rather than monitoring, and shifting towards a ‘capabilities’ approach to up- and reskilling should help bridge these gaps.

Higher levels of understanding and information-sharing about fast-paced transitions at work is becoming increasingly important, as is renewed attention on developing the so-called key ‘soft’ skills of caring, creativity and communication, alongside digital ones. Developing skills for the future workforce and building capacity to prepare for digitisation should be seen as part of building a future of 'good work' across sectors and impacted communities. IFOW research has shown the economic, social and health case, as well the moral one, to refocus on ‘good work’ (defined by the Charter of Good Work and including lifelong learning) as a central, cross-cutting objective for government and business alike.

Further resources on skills and lifelong learning:

Discover more on this topic in our Knowledge Hub.

Interesting reads

CIPD Good Work Index
The CIPD Good Work Index provides an annual snapshot of job quality in the UK. Each year, the CIPD surveys more than 5,000 workers across different sectors and occupations about key aspects of their work and employment, and offer insights to drive improvement in working lives.

This year's report tracks the fallout of COVID-19's impact on job quality and reveals that work-life balance, health and wellbeing, job security and the rising cost of living are key issues. It also suggests that the 'great resignation' may have been overstated.

Harder, better, faster, stronger? Work intensity and 'good work' in the UK
A research paper from Tom Hunt and Harry Pickard presents new evidence on the relationship between work intensity and job insecurity, and on the negative effects of high work intensity for health and wellbeing. The paper highlights how work intensity in the UK has increased in the last two decades, but there remain gaps in our understanding of its causes and effects.

Fairwork UK Ratings 2022: Collective Worker Power
The Fairwork UK 2022 Ratings report evaluates 15 popular platforms across a diverse range of sectors, including food delivery, grocery delivery, ride hailing, care work and cleaning services. Each platform in the study is assessed against five principles of fair work – fair pay, fair conditions, fair contracts, fair management and fair representation – and assigned a score out of ten.

The research shows that while most platform workers continue to face unfair working conditions, and lack social protections, a growing number of them are receiving benefits comparable to, or sometimes even better than, the statutory entitlements of the standard employment contract.

Microsoft plans to eliminate face analysis tools in push for 'responsible AI'
Last week Microsoft announced its plans to remove facial analysis software from its artificial intelligence service for detecting, analysing and recognising faces. This is part of a push for tighter controls of its AI products - technologies that would be used to make important decisions about a person's access to employment, education, health care, financial services or a life opportunity are subject to pre-release review by a team led by Natasha Crampton, Microsoft's chief responsible AI officer.

AI and digital tools in workplace management and evaluation
The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has published a study into the policy options for regulating the use of AI-enabled, and algorithmic management systems in the world of work under EU law. The main findings of the study include:

  1. Introducing and operating AI at work poses challenges for businesses.
  2. Businesses that lead in developing AI technologies will set the lines that other employers follow; therefore, action is urgently needed.
  3. AI has evident drawbacks in terms of its impact on working conditions that can be counteracted through regulation.
  4. Regulatory changes will be required in various fields of law, and the EU AI Act should bolster the effectiveness of other laws in governing AI
  5. The EU AI Act should be a participant instead of an arbiter in the field of labour protection.

Cloud adoption linked to stronger firm performance

A paper by Wang Jin at the MIT Sloan School of Management finds that transitioning to the cloud has a positive effect on firms' performance. Measuring firms' investment in cloud computing through the demand for cloud skills in job listings, Jin found that cloud technology leads to:

  • Financial gains: Revenue growth for public firms adopting the cloud was 2.3% to 6.9% higher than for non-adopters in the last decade.
  • Flexibility: The shift away from on-premises IT infrastructure eliminates geographic restrictions on where firms base technology assets and the employees using them.
  • Long-term advantages in adopting new technology: Cloud adoption can serve as a starting point for initiatives in AI and machine learning.

Events coming up in July

The future is flex: Flexible working is here to stay, companies and policy need to adapt

16:00–17:00 BST | Tuesday 5 July 2022

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Future of Work hosts an event to explore key questions when it comes to flexible working. This hybrid event is being held at the House of Commons, with limited capacity to join in-person, which will be reserved for members of the APPG on the Future of Work in the first instance. The event is open for all to attend via Zoom.

Power, pay and profits: What do shifts in firm and worker power mean for wages?

09:30–10:45 BST | Thursday 7 July 2022

The Resolution Foundation is publishing new research into how worker and employer power have changed in recent decades – from trade union density to competition between firms. This event will discuss what these power dynamic shifts mean for pay, profits and wider living standards.

techUK Annual Dinner

18:45–00:00 BST | Wednesday 13 July 2022

An evening with a drinks reception and dinner, networking opportunities and speeches from the country's leading technology stakeholders.

Basic Income North, 2022 conference

10:00–16:00 BST | Thursday 28 July 2022

The RSA hosts a full-day conference exploring universal basic income (UBI) in the North. The aim of the event is to continue discussions around basic income in a Northern context, hearing from a range of stakeholders on the topic, from academic experts to grassroots campaigners and politicians.


📣 European AI Fund Open Call 2022 📣
The European AI Fund is inviting applications for core funding to support organisations to build policy and advocacy capacity, to help shape the future of AI in Europe. The fund will support organisations on two fronts:

  1. Those that already focus on AI and its impacts, to support and strengthen their policy and advocacy capacity.
  2. Those that focus primarily on other issues, to help build their expertise and capacity around AI and its impacts on the communities they represent.

Deadline for applications: Monday 25 July 2022.

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Anna Thomas MBE


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