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Understanding the future of work

Industrial and technological revolutions have historically resulted in the growth of economies and productivity, as well as the creation of new jobs. Despite short-term challenges arising from the replacement of manual labour and the need to upscale skills and competencies, the pace of transformation allowed time for education and training to catch up, and to equip low and mid-skilled workers with the new skills and competencies required to function productively. Today, many studies show that technology is being adopted at an exponential rate, replacing middle-level skills that were once considered uniquely human and placing the world of work in a state of flux. Dynamic processes such as digitalisation, the growth of the digital economy and technological advances, coupled with profound changes in the organisation of work, globalisation, demographic change, environmental challenges, as well as new ways of organising the production of goods and the delivery of services, provide a myriad of opportunities to society while at the same time presenting considerable challenges. This document has two parts: Part I (Chapters 2-4) looks at the trends in the world of work and Part II (Chapters 5 and 6) explores possible policy questions, responses and next steps.