What will be the future of work?


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Do you wonder if the good fortune and opportunities that you’ve enjoyed in your professional life will be available to your children, and to their children? At a time of strong global economic growth, it may seem paradoxical that we face an existential crisis around the future of work. But the pace of innovation is accelerating, and the jobs of the future – in a few months or a few years – will require specific, complex skills. Human capital will become an ever more valuable resource. 

In short, the changing nature of work – and how best to prepare people for the jobs of the future – are some of the toughest challenges countries face, which is why they’re the subject of this year’s World Development Report.

Because the future of work matters to all of us, we decided to give this report an unprecedented level of transparency. For the first time since the World Bank began publishing the WDR in 1978, the report is completely transparent throughout the writing process. Every Friday afternoon, the latest draft is uploaded to the World Bank website, so that anyone with internet access has an opportunity to read it and engage with the team of authors. I can’t promise that the WDR won’t have changed a week from now, which is why I encourage you to keep revisiting it as we keep revising it.

For new readers, here are a few insights into the report’s contents that I hope will get you thinking about the future of work:

First, while the threat of imminent, widespread, technology-induced unemployment is a chimera, jobs are currently being lost and will be lost to automation. But technology also creates new opportunities and is constantly improving global living standards. The world is better connected, aspirations are rising, and disparate voices are more likely to be heard.

Second, the skills needed for work are changing, literally, every day. New jobs will require specific skills—a combination of technological know-how, problem solving, and critical-thinking skills, as well as soft skills such as perseverance, collaboration, and empathy. That means countries must invest much more – and more effectively – in their people to build human capital.

Investing in human capital is the key mechanism to ensure that the next generation is ready for the changing nature of work ; however, too many countries are under-investing in these critical areas—especially in the early formative years of childhood, when the ability to learn new skills quickly is decisively molded. When countries don’t invest to build human capital, it puts successive generations – especially the poorest – at a severe disadvantage, exacerbates inequalities that already exist, and threatens to create instability when rising aspirations are met with frustration instead of opportunity. 

Third, we should ensure that opportunity, like talent, is distributed equally throughout society. One of the primary ways we can ensure this is to protect people through social assistance and insurance systems that fit with the changing nature of work. The current model is broken in most developing countries and looks increasingly out of date for most advanced economies as well. 

Social contracts are also about inclusion, which means that the wealthy have to pay their share of taxes. With insufficient tax revenues, governments can’t deliver the current social contract. Countries in every region must do more to stop tax avoidance, and the only way they can, in the words of leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies, is to “put an end to the divorce between the location of profits and the location of real activities.”

There’s a lot more in the report that I hope you’ll explore as it continues to evolve in the coming weeks. I’m certain that when the final draft is launched in the fall it will make a significant contribution to the debate on the future of work. If you want to get involved, you can start by reading the work in progress here.

Originally published on LinkedIn

Join the Conversation

Tashinga Kamusupai
July 13, 2018

on top of wealthy taxation, i think policy to reduces corruption should be implemented to improve efficiency and accountability especially in social spending. people should have opportunity to better health care, able to build physical human capital. private sector should be allowed to develop so as to leverage jod creation and human capital deman. on top of all, peole should have access to finance regardless of age, gender and other ways law can use to group people and anything might be required for a person to have access to money this include collateral

Abubakar Abdulkadir Akko
July 13, 2018

Great and educative article, the more world leaders realised people are the greatest assets, project and investment they can concentrate on, the better the generations and the future.

July 13, 2018

Investment in Preschool children
More investment is needed in the nurturing of young children( pre school) both within and outside the family circle.
Both parents need more time off work to invest in their Childs education to build the necessary messages that someone cares for them. As well the systems outside the home need rethinking so the caring relationship is transferred to the specific types of child care.Some contribution to such a system needs to also come from the family ( say around 20%) so the system remains affordable.
Skilled Trades need more social status
In the transition to more technology skilled jobs such as plumbing, carpentry, metal working, , catering should have degree status so that young people doing such tasks are not considered a "tradie" underclass. These courses should be supported with mandatory business management for small enterprises. The transition to robots for all these type of skills will take time and in western countries there are always skills shortages with perceptual and other social factors more important in attracting potential young workers than salary or ability to do the job.

Enoch Ongwara
July 13, 2018

I shudder to contemplate the future of young people in natural resources rich, landlocked countries like Uganda and South Sudan. There's a whole generation that that will miss out because of a combination of poor governance and agreed on the part leaders who are a sellout backed by the "neveau riche" industrializing countries.

Muhammad Arham
July 14, 2018

I share most of the ideas being advanced in your writing. However, we can not stress the importance id democracy enough in order to have more transparent business conduct. We can not invite people (both local residents and foreigners) to do business in our country if regulations are not set transparently. Equally important is the just development of infrastructure. We have to work to the best of our ability to ensure that all regions are well developed.

Rakesh Gupta
July 14, 2018

Helpful and useful input. It assures that, at least globally, we are on the right tract. Helps to stay positive on changes brought by the PM Modi in India.

Ahmad Ghazi
July 14, 2018

This is something of serious concern which requires a global level attention. ILO should also play it's pivotal role to this emerging global issue. States should also start homework for preparedness to face this rapidly approaching reality.

Michelsr (Michel Del Buono, WBank retiree
July 14, 2018

Or must we look for another means of distribution, maybe unrelated to productivity, but based on belonging, inclusion and, yes, needs?? And what political system will be able to effect that kind of change???!!!

Karyana Hutomo
July 15, 2018

It is important to understand how people learning and creating the curiosity. Developing a learning ecosystem is our jobs. It needs a collaborations and productive executions.

Thayyil Sethumadhavan
July 16, 2018

As regards the third concern of equal distribution of opportunities, the solution cannot be confined to a country or a region, but has to be viewed in a universal matrix.Developed countries must accept the need for providing justice to all by adopting an accommodating policy and opening their gates at least selectively to achieve this goal. It is true that the investment in human capital is inadequate in several low income countries, but more worrying is the lack of focus on quality education and the bureaucratic interventions which are counter-productive.

Em. Prof. Dr. Martin Mulder
July 23, 2018

In my opinion - the World Development Report 2018 is a great report. As a specialist in vocational education and training, I support this field very much. I see the WDR addresses this, which I applaud. However, more attention could be given to the world-wide trend on competence-based vocational and professional education, and on future-oriented compencies, which are essential to not only cope with changes, but also for creating change and transformation.

Sushil Raj
July 23, 2018

Indeed, investing in human capital for the future is also key to addressing the many inequalities and exclusions that have generated and continue to generate conflicts. Perhaps the next iteration of the WDR could pick up from the UN-World Bank joint study on conflict prevention and look at this dimension as well.

Douglas Noue
July 24, 2018

Very insightful article.

Tahreer Hammad
August 02, 2018

Work is the key to be or not to be in the world .No one know you as human being if You dont work.So in the present ,the kind of your work and your way to do it are the main facturs to say it done well . Therefore, success in the work any work depends on the person him or her self