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Information and Communication Technologies

How young people are rethinking the future of work

Esteve Sala's picture
(Photo: Michael Haws / World Bank)


When we talk about the future of work, it is important to include perspectives, ideas and solutions from young people as they are the driving force that can shape the future.  As we saw at the recent Youth Summit 2017, the younger, digitally-savvy generations —whether they are called Millennials, Gen Y, or Gen Z— shared solutions that helped tackle global challenges.  The two-day event welcomed young people to discuss how to leverage technology and innovation for development impact.  In this post, we interviewed —under a job-creation perspective—finalists of the summit's global competition.

Can agriculture create job opportunities for youth?

Luc Christiaensen's picture

Also available in: French | Spanish | Chinese | Arabic

Many good job opportunities on and off the farm remain in agriculture. Can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth? 


Technology and the internet are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about the future of work for young people; not agriculture or farming. This makes historic sense, as agriculture sheds labor when countries develop. And the traditional ways of producing food do not look particularly sexy. Yet, technology and the internet are also opening up opportunities for agriculture, and urbanization and changing diets are calling for new ways to process, market and consume our foods. So, can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth?

Three policies to promote a more inclusive future of work

Luc Christiaensen's picture
 Arne Hoel/World Bank
Even if the technologies are available, businesses and individuals often lack the necessary skills to use them. And these skill gaps exist at multiple levels. 
(Photo: Arne Hoel/World Bank)

As we explained in previous posts, digital technologies present both threats and opportunities for the employment agenda in developing countries. Yet many countries lack the means to take full advantage of these opportunities, because of limited access to technology, a lack of skills, and the absence of a broad enabling environment, the so-called “analog” complements.


The Future of Work: The number of jobs is not the only thing at stake

Siddhartha Raja's picture
Photo of computer lab. Technology is a great job-creating machine. But will these new jobs be better or worse?
Technology is a great job-creating machine. But will these new jobs be better or worse? (Photo: John Hogg / World Bank)

Most of the discussion about the future of work focuses on how many jobs robots will take from humans. But this is just a (small) part of the change to come. As we explained in our previous blog, technology is reshaping the world of work not only by automating production but also by facilitating connectivity and innovation. The changes that digital technology is introducing in the price of capital versus labor, the costs of transacting, the economies of scale, and the speed of innovation bring significant effects in three dimensions: the quantity, the quality, and the distribution of jobs. Let’s see them in detail.

Five strategies to help youth succeed in the digital age

Estera Barbarasa's picture
The rapid spread of digital technologies is expanding opportunities in many instances; but the benefits of technological changes are not evenly distributed to workers globally. (Photo: Masaru Goto / World Bank)


According to the World Bank Development Report on Digital Dividends (2016), the rapid spread of digital technologies around the world is boosting economic growth and expands opportunities in many instances; but the benefits of technological changes are not evenly distributed to workers globally. For high-skilled workers, technology in most cases complements their skills, increases their productivity, and often leads to higher wages. Whereas for middle and low-skilled workers, benefits depend on the degree to which technology either complements or substitutes workers in job functions.

Can new developments in machine learning and satellite imagery be used to estimate jobs?

Alvaro Gonzalez's picture
 Orbital Insight satellite imagery/Airbus Defense and Space and DigitalGlobe)
"Before" and "after" satellite images analyzed for agricultural land, using algorithms. (Photo: Orbital Insight satellite imagery/Airbus Defense and Space and DigitalGlobe)


Methods that use satellite data and machine learning present a good peek into how Big Data and new analytical methods will change how we measure poverty. I am not a poverty specialist, so I am wondering if these data and techniques can help in how we estimate job growth. 

The future of jobs in the developing world and what it means for our work

Lillian Foo's picture
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An interview with Michal Rutkowski, Senior Director for the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Group
What are some of the challenges faced by countries trying to create jobs in today’s world? How do we deal with informal jobs, and should we really fear robots taking away jobs? We caught up with Michal Rutkowski, Senior Director for the World Bank’s Social Protection and Jobs Group, to get his insights on these key issues and what they mean for the work that we do.

Replacing work with work: New opportunities for workers cut out by automation?

Christian Bodewig's picture
Technology is making work less manual and routine and more interactive and creative-cognitive.
Technology is making work less manual and routine, and more interactive and creative-cognitive. But not all those who lose routine jobs will find new non-routine, interactive, and creative-cognitive jobs. (Photo: Graham Crouch / World Bank)

Technology is shaking up labor markets around the world. Increasingly intelligent machines are taking over routine jobs. Three-D printing is making many traditional, labor-intensive production processes obsolete. In total, almost half of all jobs may be at risk in the United States due to automation. Job losses are no longer just limited to blue collar occupations, but increasingly also affect high-paying white collar jobs such as in insurance, in the health sector or even in government bureaucracies. Is this the end of work as we know it? Not so fast, say some, who argue that technological progress and automation have not necessarily led to less demand for work on aggregate. An often cited example is the fact that the introduction of the automatic teller machine was accompanied by an expansion in retail banking jobs as banks opened more branches.

In Georgia, jobs come from connecting small businesses to the internet

Siddhartha Raja's picture
Attendees at the focus group of the Georgia National Innovation Ecosystem project. Photo by the Bagdati Innovations Center

We walked into the largish conference room in the Baghdati municipality building. This small town of about five thousand people is in western Georgia, in the Caucasus. It was freezing cold, and the recent snowfall had deposited a crisp, beautiful white sheet all around. Not too different from my thoughts at the time; a blank sheet, waiting to hear from a collection of small businesses.

The topic: if and how these businesses use the internet.

Fear the disconnection, not the machine

Siddhartha Raja's picture
Will robots, artificial intelligence, and derivatives such as driverless cars or automated call centers put us all out of work? Maybe. But the more immediate worry is about the effect of businesses not adopting today’s technologies. If businesses do not invest in technology, they will fail to increase productivity and become non-competitive, limiting job creation. Their disconnection is the bigger risk to job creation, rather than the speculated job losses due to automation.
 

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