Challenges relating to the future of work were addressed by an ICC BASIS co-organised workshop, held last week during the Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a UN-linked platform that facilitates the discussion of public policy issues pertaining to the Internet.
Under the theme “Digital economy and the future of work“, the workshop considered how emerging technology – such as big data, artificial intelligence, and the proliferation of the Internet of things (IoT) – are transforming the ways existing practices of skill development as well as how new businesses are launched.
Workshop participants concluded that making advances towards an inclusive connected society would rely greatly on increased collaboration between business, governments and the technical community, and was the only way to identify and address skill deficiencies to better prepare work forces for the changes spawned by the digital economy.
Representatives from the European Commission, Organization of Economy Cooperation and Development (OECD), Internet Society Uganda and ICC BASIS highlighted the need for
multistakeholder and collaborative efforts to address challenges and ensure all generations are equipped with relevant skills and opportunities.
Lorenzo Pupillio of Telecom Italia noted the profound impact the digital economy was having on work practices. “Smarter machines and smarter people can complement each other to create a mass of customised products and services,” he said. The importance of public-private partnerships was reiterated throughout the session and a number of existing examples of partnerships in emerging economies were shared.
Helani Galpaya of LIRNEasia and a number of interventions from the floor underscored the role that access and awareness would play, especially in developing countries, to prepare the work force for some of the challenges that an increasingly digital economy could present.
Discussion provided a helpful contribution to the overarching IGF 2016 theme on ‘Sustainable and inclusive growth’. Gabriela Rocha, the co-founder and CEO of Laboratoria, a local start-up with a presence in Mexico, Peru and Chile, highlighted the need to make opportunities for young people from low income families, who may not have access to higher education, such as the opportunities that Laboratoria is creating for hundreds of young women.
Ms Rocha said that in Mexico, 80% of youth in poor households don’t go to college. “Higher education is still a primary path to quality jobs but it is important to give people the skills developers actually want.”
Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google said: “We have this increasing array of tools through which to create work but we still have the problem of attaching the right people to the work that needs to be done. We shouldn’t try to jam people into predefined jobs. Instead we should be trying to figure out what people do well and how to fashion work for them to excel.”
The workshop was one of three co-hosted sessions at IGF 2016.