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Tales of the Unexpected: reflections on the Digital Futures of Work Research Programme

When we began our studies in August 2019 there was a lot of media hype about robots taking jobs following studies claiming almost half of American workers could find themselves surplus to requirements as digital technologies including AI, robotics, etc., were getting smarter at doing our jobs. At the beginning

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From K-pop and K-drama to ‘K-learning cities’: lessons for the digital era

In recent years, South Korea has been gaining more and more attention in the global market in many areas: for example, K-pop, K-drama and K-food. This was accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were forced to switch their living space from offline to online and spend more time watching

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Digitalisation’s impacts on occupations and skills – the challenge for English qualifications

Across the developed and developing world the adoption of digital technologies is having an impact on the structure of occupations and careers, and consequently on the skills needed to undertake jobs and job roles. As the Digital Futures project has revealed, these impacts vary between countries, but also between occupations

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Digitalisation and English policy capacity

One of the key lessons to emerge from comparative research on national policy responses to digitalisation, automation and AI is that nations start in very different places in terms of their levels of capacity to confront these issues. Put bluntly, some countries have a stronger and more effective policy response

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Will generative AI lead to a degenerative workforce?

In the final year of our research programme, we’ve witnessed what’s widely believed to be a step-change in digital innovation, resulting from advances in generative AI. In some ways it’s a light bulb moment! The first street lighting in Paris for the 1878 Exposition Universelle, or in 1880 the first

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The ‘future worker’: the missing piece in the socio-technical imagery of the ‘future of work’

Perhaps, we have put too much attention on the ‘future of work’ that we lose sight of the ‘future worker’. I was reminded of this in a discussion I recently had with a robotics engineer, Q. His company creates cutting-edge robotics products and services. The chat with Q was very

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If skills are the answer, we could be asking the wrong question

At the Global Lifelong Learning Summit in Singapore1, I recently participated in a panel session on The Future of Work is Now: Workplace Learning for a Future-Ready Workforce. At the end of the session, we were asked for a final comment which led me to suggest, ‘if skills are the

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What does the digital labour market mean for the competition for jobs?

Digital innovation is rapidly transforming how labour markets shape the competition for jobs. We now spend more time online and create more digital data than ever before. Over 90 per cent of the population in many developed countries has access to the internet (World Bank 2021), and spend a lot

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From paper and pulp to a digital front runner – Finland

Internationally, Finland is often referred to as a model country when it comes to digital transformation. In the EU Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which has measured progress in digitalization across the EU Member States since 2014, Finland has continuously been among the top performing countries, and at the

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Work Integrated Learning for future-oriented capabilities

There has been a shift in Singapore’s educational institutions towards an emphasis on industry placements as part of the preparation of learners for work in a more challenging labour market. This shift happens across all levels of the workforce, be it for the undergraduates through internship programmes, the unemployed seeking

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Why the UK government is failing to address digital skill needs

What is the UK government doing to identify and address future digital skill needs? What follows explores what is being done and points to some of the major gaps that will need filling if a comprehensive and coherent policy response is to emerge. In 2017 the Department for Digital, Culture,

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Digital skills in lower skilled jobs

Workers in lower-skilled jobs are often seen as particularly vulnerable to automation as well as more likely to struggle with new digital skill requirements at work. With widespread concerns of growing digital skills shortages, and even a ‘digital skills crisis’, policy discussion focuses on ‘future proofing’ the workforce by retraining

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Skills-based hiring: More equal opportunities for all?

To what extent does skills-based hiring hold onto the promise of creating more equal opportunities for all in the labour market? And, if indeed so, does this mean that the degree is no longer important? Alongside fast-changing skills requirements and employers’ purported difficulties in finding the right type of labour

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The current state of play and future possibilities of using A.I. for labour market analysis

The advance in digital information and the use of artificial intelligence (A.I.) have improved the quantity and quality of new labour market information substantially in the last two decades. In part, this development has been driven by increasing low-cost computing power and the availability of real-time demand and supply labour

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Lifelong learning and the fourth industrial revolution

It is still widely accepted that today’s technological advances require a strategic approach to lifelong learning, by increasing the volume and flexibility of human capital to deliver greater individual and shared prosperity. After all, education is often regarded as one of the few ‘levers’ available to governments.  This view is

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New methods to understand the labour market in the digital economy

As part of the Digital Futures of Work Programme, we brought together over 30 experts from Europe and Asia to discuss new methods to improve our understanding of skills anticipation, job redesign, and labour markets in a context of rapid digital innovation. There is increasing interest in the potential and

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The curious absence of a coherent digital skills policy in the UK

The impacts of digitalisation on skills are, at best, muted in current UK policy debates. Given the importance of digital technologies, why is this?  What follows will argue that there are two key reasons.  The first is that we have many other labour market issues to worry about and these

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The future of no work?

At the very beginning of my journey, I was crowing with the flock that “disruption is here”. Your job is not safe. AI and automation will take away more than “minimum-wage jobs”. Armed increasingly with worrying labour market skills data, I pushed the same bandwagon that fundamental skill gaps required

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The emergence of the digital labour market and its perils

Rapid digital innovation is transforming how people look for jobs and how companies recruit. As a result, the competition for jobs is being transformed. Digital tools give job seekers new ways of describing themselves and employers new sources of data on candidates, in real-time and at low cost. But are

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Living, learning and working in the digital archipelago

Work-life quality is serious business in Finland, they have taken it to whole new levels! When countries across the world went into lockdown due to the pandemic, the shift to online operations was a challenge for many. In Finland, this was not the case as Finland is highly digital, but

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The future of work is distributed: the challenge of our time

The owner of a small business has difficulty hiring executives to support his firm’s pivot to digital. This is in Singapore, where locals aspire to join large transnational corporations or the public sector. So he looks to the region where there is a massive number of qualified professionals at far

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Looking for a shelter against automation? Your boss might be part of the answer

There is a lot of discussion about robots taking our jobs. Much of it is speculative, usually forecasts based on the opinions of AI experts, who tend to be too enthusiastic about the potential of digital technologies. Such estimates take little account of job redesign possibilities, or social and economic

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There’s a lot at stake in the future of work: a reminder that technology is not destiny

All industrial revolutions are characterised by changes in the nature of work. This is not just a change in the types of jobs people do to earn a living – from farm labourer to factory worker to computer software engineer, etc. – but also changes in the role of work

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