The gates of the dam are now widely opened. ICTs have accelerated the commoditization and mobility of a growing different kinds of jobs. At the same time, the digital technologies underpinned by free trade have created real global value chains for the production of goods and services in highly deterritorialized manner. The outcome of the combination of both trends is a radical change in the nature and organisation of labour, where ancient jobs are decomposed in a long chain of discrete tasks. As a result, a new job marketplace based on an infinite pool of low-skilled workers has been created. Furthermore, this infinite pool of workers face a growing competition of robots that would produce the same good or service at a lower price.
Governments should be worried about this change of the job marketplace. The cornerstone of the welfare state has been a job marketplace based on an employee-employer relationship, which now it is being substituted by a world of self-employment. Furthermore, it looks the job marketplace would be smaller due to the disappearance of posts due to automatisation.
Although digital technologies have created the problem of the jibarization of the former job marketplace, they could be also the key for the solution. While enabling more efficient value chains, ICTs are boosting the creation of new goods and services spurred by innovation. A new set of tools should be included in policy-making drawer in order to overcome this apparent contradiction.
At least, the following ideas should be considered:
- Accelerating the emergence of new production activities. A required step in this direction is to foster the digital transformation of existing firms and the promotion of digital entrepreneurship. Without the production of new goods and services, there will not be new jobs to be filled.
- Facilitating the transition of workers of declining activities. The digital transformation could bring a whole set of new tasks to be performed. However, it would not be possible to develop them unless an important number of workers are re-trained. It will be needed to pool resources both from public and private sector to face this capacity building challenge.
- Renewing the education system. There is a lack of education on digital skills in schools and universities. Beyond the creation of a new and bigger generation of ICT specialists, there is a need to provide any future employee with a basic set of digital skills. This implies a complete reorientation of university degrees to take advantage of all the digital era facilities.
- Changing the culture of the whole society. A new job marketplace required a new culture of labour. A new kind of labour relationships, where there will be a growing number of self-employees and self-management activities, will demand new competences to avoid stress and strike the right balance between personal and working life
The nature of labor is at a crossroad for the first time in many generations. The rebuild of the job market place before it finally crashes should be one of the main priorities of a generation of politicians and government officials.