International Symposium, 5-6 December 2013, Geneva

Symposium for Employers on the Future of Work

The ILO Bureau for Employers' Activities (ACT/EMP) is organizing a symposium on The Future of Work on 5-6 December 2013. It is part of a series of symposia that ACT/EMP has been organizing every two years, bringing together leading scholars and opinion leaders with practitioners from the business community to consider evidence and learn from a cross-cultural exchange of ideas. The purpose of the symposia is to strengthen employer ideas and proposals at both national and international forums with the best knowledge and thinking available.


The Future of Work

There are profound changes going on in the world of work, driven by globalization, technology, demographic transitions and a host of other causes. One of the effects of these changes appears to be the decline of the permanent employment relationship, while various other work arrangements increase. Another is the polarization of the labour market-the number of middle-skills jobs is falling, while new openings are for high skills jobs that not everybody can do, and low-skills jobs that provide meagre earnings. These trends are likely to stabilize at some point with the creation of new jobs in the middle band that may not exist today, but the causes are structural in nature, and will change the nature of the labour market forever in the same way that mechanization changed manufacturing and agriculture in the past. The differences will be in the pace of the change and the degree of human capabilities that machines will replace.

The confrontations we witness today on issues of flexibility and non-standard forms of work are proxies for the proper consideration we need to give to the fundamental transformation that is taking place. The more important debates will be about how to adapt our systems to these developments, with regulations better adapted to the new work relationships and education that prepares people for new functions.

Business will have to lead that debate, which is important for social stability and confidence in the market economy.

Main themes

  •   How the world of work is changing: a review of the evidence
  •   The impact of technology on jobs
  •   The need for regulations that are better adapted to the new world of work


  •   Identification of key strategies
  •   Research proposals
  •   Recommendations for action by business associations
  •   Proposals for policy change

Speakers' presentations

  »   The Labor Market Impact of Technology: Past, Present and Future
David Dorn, Associate Professor of Economics at the Center for Monetary and Financial Studies (CEMFI)
  »   How the world of work is changing: a review of the evidence
Maarten Goos, Associate Professor at the University of Leuven
  »   Skills, Technology and Capital Intensity: Employment & Wage Shifts in post-apartheid South Africa
Haroon Bhorat, Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town
  »   Green Shoots in the Labor Market: A Cornucopia of Social Experiments
Katherine V.W. Stone, Arjay and Frances Miller, Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law
  »   Comments on "Green Shoots in the Labor Market" (K. Stone)
Sangheon Lee, Research and Policy Coordinator at the Inclusive Labour Markets, Labour Relations and Working Conditions Branch (INWORK) of the ILO
  »   The Changing World of Work: Concerns & Opportunities
Denis Pennel, Expert in Human Resources and European Labour Market, Managing Director of Ciett