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May 31, 2022

IFOW Newsletter May 2022 | The view from IFOW

Dear Friends of IFOW,


This month, the UK Government has announced a new review into the Future of Work, which will be led by Matt Warman MP – member of the APPG on the Future of Work, and has three aims that are strongly aligned with our work:

  1. improving access to good jobs
  2. understanding the role of automation in shaping our future labour market
  3. building labour protection to prevent exploitative practices.

And hot on the heels of this announcement, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee launched its inquiry into the UK's labour market, which will examine the challenges faced by workers and employers as well as what the Government and companies can do to support the labour market. We welcome this growing recognition that shaping a better future of work is key to building back better and levelling up the country, and look forward to feeding into both.

Creating 'good work' has hit the international stage too, with the World Economic Forum publishing its Good Work Framework, which will be developed into standards to measure the 'S' in ESG. We were pleased to have contributed to the development of the framework via the Global Future Council on the New Agenda for Work, Wages and Job Creation, and to see a commitment to making good work a reality.

And finally, as we enter June, we are entering conference season. We are delighted to be partnering with the Financial Times Future of Work series to discuss lifelong learning initiatives (for 20% off tickets use code FTIFOW2022). We also hope to see many of you at CogX, and during London Tech Week (13–17 June), where Anna will be joining the Future of Work Summit for a panel discussion on the Great Resignation and surviving the talent shortage.

Enjoy the Jubilee weekend!

Best wishes,

Anna and the Institute for the Future of Work team

Anna Thomas
Director
Institute for the Future of Work

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Deep dive – Understanding the impacts of technology adoption on 'good work'

This month we published a business case for taking a responsible approach to the adoption of technology in the workplace. It also demonstrates that there are moral, social and economic imperatives to prioritising 'good work', which will see returns at the level of individual, firm and society.

Cover of report showing machine in a warehouse. Text reads: Case for importance: Understanding the impacts of technology adoption on 'good work'. Putting people first. Institute for the Future of Work logo

The report uses the ten principles set out in our Good Work Charter to organise information about the benefits of taking a 'high-road' approach to technology adoption, and to expose the risks, cost and impacts for businesses of taking a 'low-road' approach.

It accompanies a guide, produced partnership with the CIPD and Carnegie UK, for people professionals and business leaders who are looking to invest in technology in ways that benefit both their organisation and its people. The framework follows five broad stages for the responsible investment and implementation of technology in the workplace:

Stage 1: Understanding why you are investing in technology

Stage 2: Considering the impact on your people

Stage 3: Choosing the right solution

Stage 4: Addressing legal obligations and responsibilities

Stage 5: Rolling out, supporting and reviewing.

The takeaway message is that as organisations work through the process of investing in and implementing technology, adopted responsibly, it can boost productivity and secure better outcomes for both the organisation and its people.

Interesting reads

Finetuning the EU's Platform Work Directive
In this Oxford Business Law blog post, Halefom Abraham, Jeremias Adams-Prassl and Aislinn Kelly-Lyth suggest targeted amendments – specifically in relation to algorithmic management – to help improve the European Commission's draft Directive on working conditions in the platform (or 'gig') economy.

The article explores how human oversight of AI can come in three forms, which serve different regulatory purposes:

  1. Humans above the loop: to help monitor and detect system-level impacts
  2. Humans after the loop: subjecting individual decisions to human explanation and review
  3. Humans in the loop: requiring human involvement in individual significant decisions.

Coming soon, we will be publishing guidance on worker involvement in algorithmic audit 'above the loop', produced in partnership with the ICO. Stay tuned!

Britain's warehouse workers needed an Employment Bill
Earlier this month, Prince Charles delivered the Queen's Speech, which outlined the Government's priorities for the year ahead, and highlighted some of the 38 laws ministers intend to pass.

The Speech mentioned three Bills that are significant for the future of work – the Data Reform Bill, Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill and a new British Bill of Rights – but there was one signification omission: an Employment Bill.

Ross Mudie has written this post for the Centre for Progressive Policy on how the failure to include an Employment Bill will impact Britain's growing warehouse workforce, the fastest growing part of our economy, but which is also associated with poor working conditions.

The UK Insecure Work Index
The Work Foundation has produced new in-depth analysis of UK job market data, which reveals that women, disabled people, ethnic minorities and young workers have been consistently affected by insecure employment over the last twenty years.

Relatedly, the Behavioural Insights Team has published a review of the barriers faced by women seeking to move out of low-paid and low-skill work, and the evidence-based enablers. Main barriers include domestic responsibilities, poor transport and shift patterns, while promising interventions point to better workplace flexibility, more training opportunities and encouraging gender-balanced procurement process.

Regulating AI in the workplace
Frank Pasquale, Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School, in a talk for the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI), explores about how AI is being used to judge people in the workplace. He explains how AI is increasingly being used in recruitment, for example to sort candidates' CVs, and to analyse video interviews for likely 'fit'. However, he explains that what is problematic is that the exact form of analysis is often unknown.

There have also been a number of high-profile cases of bias in such algorithmic tools in recent years. In response, Airlie Hilliard discusses for our blog how there have been frameworks, or auditing tools, developed to support the identification and mitigation of bias in AI-driven recruitment tools.

And New York City Council has taken this one step further by mandating that all AI-driven recruitment tools within the city limits be audited for bias from 1 January 2023. In the post, Airlie explores some of the unanswered questions of the legislation, and areas that need further clarification.

Artificial intelligence and industrial innovation: Evidence from German firm-level data
This paper in Research Policy by Christian Rammer, Gastón P. Fernández and Dirk Czarnitzi analyses the link between the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and innovation performance in firms. Based on firm-level data from the German part of the Community Innovation Survey (CIS) 2018. They find that using AI technologies is associated with significantly higher product and process innovation results, and applying AI broadly (using different methods for different applications areas) increases innovation output.

Related, one of the main activities of our recently launched Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing, includes a firm-level survey of UK firms to explore the way managerial philosophies shape approaches to the introduction of automation technologies. This aims to provide new insight into the factors that influence investment into automating technologies at the firm level. Stay tuned for more to come on this.

Work Local: Labour market analysis
Also closely related to the Pissarides Review, the Institute for Employment Studies has produced a paper as part of the Local Government Association's 'Work Local' programme, which sets out analysis of difference between local labour markets in England.

The analysis of Annual Population Survey and real-time vacancy data shows that labour market changes are not being felt equally across the country. With local area surveys, worker interviews and place-based institutional analyses, the Pissarides Review aims to learn more about these inequalities, specifically in relation to the groups and communities that are most vulnerable to the effects of technological transformation.

Events coming up in June

All change please? What going for growth could mean for different places across Britain

10:00–11:00 BST | Tuesday 7 June 2022

The Resolution Foundation and Open Innovations host an in-person, hybrid event in Leeds – as part of the Economy 2030 Inquiry – to discuss people's experiences of the economy in their local area, and what this means for local and regional economic strategies, as well as the Government's levelling up agenda.

Future of work: Redefining company culture

09:00–17:45 BST | Wednesday 8 June 2022

The Institute is partnering with the Financial Times on their Future of Work conference series. This event explores what is needed from future leaders to create positive and inclusive working culture that place employee voices and their wellbeing at the heart of business strategies. For a 20% discount on tickets use code FTIFOW2022. Register here.

WorkerTech Unconference

09:00–11:00 BST | Tuesday 14 June 2022Bethnal Green Ventures, in partnership with Resolution Ventures and the WorkerTech consortium, are hosting an unconference breakfast event as part of London Tech Week. This is an opportunity to run sessions about all things relating to technology for workers.

Future of Work Summit 2022

10:45–16:15 BST | Wednesday 15 June 2022

As part of London Tech Week, the Future of Work Summit provides a day of talks, which will deliver key insights into new ways of working, and provide a platform to discuss and debate the challenges and solutions – underpinned by the transformative impact of technology.

Two decades of insecure work in the UK

10:00–11:00 BST | Thursday 23 June 2022

The Work Foundation's UK Insecure Work Index tracks the phenomenon of insecure work in the UK over the last two decades. Join this online event to discuss the research, and the implications for those in insecure work in light of the cost of living crisis and potential economic downturn.

Workers versus algorithms

17:30 BST | Tuesday 28 June 2022

Women Leading in AI hosts a discussion with Aida Ponte Del Castillo from the European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) and Jeremias Adams-Prassl from Oxford University on employment rights in the age of AI. They will discuss present, upcoming and possible legislative initiatives such as the EU AI Act and the Platform Directive.

Opportunities

Apply for the Bethnal Green Ventures Tech for Good Programme

Twice a year, the Resolution Ventures partners with Bethnal Green Ventures (BGV) to back WorkerTech founders through the BGV Tech for Good Programme. Alongside £30,000 investment, each venture joins a 12-week intensive learning programme with a cohort of tech for good founders, and a host of industry experts. Find out more about the application process and criteria on BGV's website.

📝Call for papers📝

Special issue on gig workers and learning organisationsThe Learning Organization Journal is inviting submissions of manuscripts (4000-9000 words) for a special issue on gig workers and learning organisations. The purpose of the issue is to provide empirical evidence on how organisations can learn and become learning organisations in the context of gig economy and crowd work.

Opening date for manuscript submissions: 1 August 2022
Closing date: 1 November 2022.

Thank you for your time and interest. If you enjoyed this, and know someone else that would benefit, please share it with them. If someone has forwarded this to you, and you would like to receive this update yourself, please subscribe here.

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

Author

Anna Thomas

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