Press release: Announcing IFOW


Today, Thursday 24th May, Naomi Climer in a speech at Chatham House* announced that the first UK institute looking at the impact of technology on work is being established (‘IFOW.’)

IFOW is taking forward the findings of the 2016 independent Future of Work Commission, founded and co-chaired in Westminster by Tom Watson MP. The Commission reported in December 2017, highlighting that the new technological revolution is behind some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing people in the UK today.

An independent, non-profit organisation, IFOW will not only continue to promote research into the most pressing future of work challenges, but will translate this research into action, helping people, organisations and government create practical solutions in response to key challenges. IFOW will be co-chaired by two former Commissioners: Naomi Climer, formerly President of the Institute of Engineering and Technology and Nobel prize-winning economist, Sir Christopher Pissarides. 

In her speech, Naomi announced IFOW’s focus areas and the development of a new ‘disruption index’ by Sir Christopher Pissarides, working with Michael Osborne, Professor of Machine Learning at Oxford University, and John Evans, formerly the General Secretary of the TUAC to the OECD. The index will go beyond a simple measure of job quality and look at the relationships between job quality, work change, how technology is being introduced, productivity and other key indicators of ‘disruption’ in the workplace.

“The biggest challenge we face is the transition of displaced labour to new, preferably good jobs”, commented Sir Christopher Pissarides. “Combining academic and private sector with local and national government material will give us a more accurate picture of what’s coming to inform the steps needed to ease transition.”

Tom Watson MP says:
“I’m proud that the Future of Work Commission I founded has taken on a life of its own and is growing into this exciting new institute.

The IFOW couldn’t have come at a more important time. We are balanced on a knife edge point in history. Automation could either sweep away good British jobs on a scale not seen since the closure of the coal mines, or it could be a force for liberation and new opportunities. Those setting policy at the top of Government will decide which. I hope they will allow themselves to be guided by IFOW's expertise.”

Naomi Climer says:
We can be optimistic about the future of work in Britain, but we must act now.  Working as an independent body will mean that we can be nimble and experimental, whilst our collective breadth of cross-disciplinary, expert knowledge and diverse networks will mean that we can expedite processes, create blueprints and get pilot projects underway to test new thinking and put research into practice.”

Naomi’s speech is available here.

Helen Mountfield QC says:
"The future of work is important because to work is to be human; so the future of work in a world of changing technology is also about the future of humanity"

Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, Founder of Stemettes, says:
"The way we work is changing at an incredible pace and we need to be proactive: proactive in how we manage our relationship with work, how we are prepared for future types of work and understanding what good work looks like. IFOW will ensure that we can practically test ideas that are inclusive and benefit all, including those most at risk. Promoting equality is something that has always been important to me. I'm excited about ensuring this for future generations."

Graeme Nuttall OBE says:
There is the potential to create “super” jobs which, in addition to traditional pay and benefits, also provide rewards from the rights and responsibilities of being a co-owner and in a way that has wider benefits to society and the economy. I look forward to ensuring employee ownership is appreciated in a wider context and to supporting all of IFOW’s important and challenging aims”

 Sir Alan Wilson, Chief Executive of the Turing Institute, says:
"As the"national institute for data science and artificial intelligence, the Turing Institute is committed to understanding the broadest implications of transformative technologies on society. This includes research on several aspects of the Future of Work. I am delighted to welcome IFOW which offers a dedicated Future of Work perspective and translates academic research into action."

Professor Rose Luckin of the Knowledge Lab, Institute of Education, UCL says:
‘IFOW will contribute essentially to the effectiveness of the UK’s response to challenges in the future workplace. Their cross-disciplinary approach to understand the ecosystem of the future of work is innovative and I look forward to working with them as they trailblaze a response to the challenges facing the UK’s workforce.’

* The Chatham House conference at which Naomi spoke was a day long event to examine the drivers transforming the world of work and evaluate potential policy and industry responses.

For further information: please contact Anna Thomas, Director at

Paula Hagan