The Future of Work Conference 2021 gathered together policymakers, companies, unions, academics and independent experts to spark discussions around future policy directions at national and European level on the topic of advancing the quality of work and working conditions for workers in diverse forms of employment. Social protection was at the forefront as one of the most important policy responses to the current crisis, yet it is only a short-term solution and the need for a more sustainable response is pressing.
The day started with exclusive roundtable sessions, designed to discuss the points of view of all stakeholders in the future of work debate. Representatives from policy institutions, companies, unions, academics, and more exchanged their points of view to better understand each other’s positions.
Christina Behrend, Head of the Social Policy Unit of ILO, highlighted that the social contract can be reinvigorated and social protection gaps closed by implementing high road strategy – investments in universal social protection systems.
Our expert panel discussion, featuring Francesca Bria (Italian National Innovation Fund), Ana Carla Pereira (European Commission), and Stefano Scarpetta (OECD) addressed some of the major concerns about the future of work – the provision of dignity and rights to workers in the era of algorithmic management, securing work-related benefits to new generations of workers, and labour market institutions that are fit for the twenty-first century.
Juliet Schor, economist and sociologist at Boston College, brought forward the American perspective and experience. According to research of package delivery in the US, findings of Juliet and her team suggest that employment status is compatible with on-demand platform labour and scheduling flexibility. Profit and market size of platform companies remain open questions as many gig workers in the US earn less than a minimum wage.
It was great to hear inputs from such a diverse set of stakeholders, reminding us of the many faces behind the future of work debate. The Conference discussions shed light on potential policy roadmaps for a future of work that is inclusive, sustainable, and resilient. One that works in the public interest and for all stakeholders.
Discussions and research on diverse (non-standard) forms of work receive great attention and reach new aspects that require immediate action to secure sustainable and decent work in the near future.
Marking the World Day for Decent Work (October 7), Reshaping Work invited a diverse field of experts to express their views for the future of work on the topics of access to social protection, workers’ representation, algorithmic management, and skills development, providing policy pointers that will lead to improvements of workers’ livelihoods.
The collection of articles is a result of this invitation and a logical continuation of the ideas discussed at the Future of Work Conference
10:00 – 11:00 CET Think Like a… Roundtables
Think like a Policy Maker – Max Uebe, Head of “Future of Work, Youth Employment” Unit, European Commission
How to deliver on the Commission President’s call to improve working conditions in platform work?
Think like an Insurer – Stefan Kröpfl, Global Head of Life Business Insights & Governance, Zurich Insurance
What are the main drivers for gaps in income protection (e.g., disability, critical illness) and pension savings in new forms of employment? What are the key concerns and the needs of workers in relation to these gaps? Who could / should address this issue? What could / should insurance companies do about it?
Think like a Research Organisation – Barbara Gerstenberger, Head of “Working Life” Unit, Eurofound
If we want to capitalise on the opportunities inherent in platform work, which actors should we rely on for policy action to minimise the risks and ensure a desirable future of platform work? Is their main task to clarify and enforce existing regulation or do we need new, platform-specific rules? Do current labour market actors have the capacity to organise and represent platform workers and identify and defend their interests?
Think like an EU Agency – Anastasia Fetsi, Lead Expert in Human Capital Development, European Training Foundation
How can we ensure platform workers develop skills and make them visible?
Think like a Union – Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary, UNI Europa
Constructive social dialogue in the platform economy: the path to avoid a race-to-the-bottom?
Think like a Start-Up – Frederik Fahning, Co-Founder, ZenJob
How can European Startups role-model modern forms of work/employment?
Think like a Temporary Agency – Menno Bart, Public Affairs Manager, The Adecco Group
Discussing employment status: is the agency work model part of the solution?
Think like a Platform – Joanne Kubba, Senior Director EMEA Policy, Uber
How can platforms maximize job creation, flexibility and protection?
Think like an Investor – Paul Peake, General Counsel for Food, Grocery, and Etail Portfolio, Prosus
How can investors facilitate new and sustainable models of work and how can investors work with companies, in their portfolio, to achieve growth whilst empowering new categories of workers?
Think like a Platform Worker – Ferdinand Schmutzer, Worker, Roamler
Rethinking the applications designs and wages: How can the good quality of work be achieved in the platform economy?
14:00-14:05 Welcoming Remarks
Jovana Karanović, Founder, Reshaping Work
14:05-14:50 Keynote Address
Christina Behrendt, Head of the Social Policy Unit, ILO
14:50 – 15:00 Pitches: Out-of-Box Solutions
During this part of the program, four organisations – specifically selected by the Reshaping Work team on the grounds of originality and potential impact their idea could have on the society at large – will pitch their out-of-box solution via a video pitch.
15:00 – 15:45 Panel Discussion: Improving work and working conditions in the EU
Ana Carla Pereira, Cabinet Expert for Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, European Commission
Stefano Scarpetta, Director of the Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
Francesca Bria, President, Italian National Innovation Fund
Moderator: Melissa Heikkilä, Europe’s AI Correspondent, POLITICO
15:45 – 16:00 Reshaping Booster: Coffee & Tea Break
16:00 – 16:45 Keynote Address
Juliet Schor, Economist and Sociologist, Boston College
Gig workers and employment classification – unraveling the controversy
16:45 – 17.00 Closing Remarks