Technology and the future of work

Technology and the future of work

Article by Pieris Pieri, Secretary of the International Relations Department of the Pancyprian Federation of Labour (PEO)

25 March 2023, “Haravgi” newspaper

We are living in an era where the increasing use of technology, automation and digitisation are in many cases changing the very nature of work, abolishing jobs and creating others that demand new skills. Within this context, the World Economic Forum estimates that 85 million jobs are expected to be abolished and 97 million new jobs created by 2025.

In 2019, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) had proposed the adoption of a people-centred agenda consisting of three pillars for action: increasing investment in people’s skills, in labour institutions and in dignified and sustainable work.

2023 has been designated by the EU as the European Year of Skills seeking to give an impetus to fulfilling the target of 60% of adults participating in training by 2030. In the same context, in June 2022 the Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs of the EU member states issued a Recommendation on supporting the training needs of individuals, with the aim of increasing the number of participants in education and training annually. The Council recommends that member states consider the creation of individual learning accounts at a national level, with the aim of enabling individuals to participate in training that will be used in the labour market and facilitate their access to or retention in the labour market.

However, the constant and accelerating replacement of jobs by the use of new technologies in the production process, the insecurity, lack of job stability and unemployment must not in practice be transferred as a problem and responsibility exclusively to working people. Training is neither an answer for combating unemployment, nor for raising a country’s productivity.

Tackling unemployment and low productivity depends on the type and quality of productive investment in the economy, particularly public investment, which creates secure, permanent and dignified jobs. The right to training cannot be a substitute for the right to dignified work, but can only serve it.

In contrast to the imposition of neoliberal policies of labour market deregulation and worker insecurity is the need to strengthen collective agreements, as is the EU target of 80% coverage for all working people.

In our country, the pandemic and its economic consequences have highlighted the need to elaborate and apply a new developmental model to make the economy more resilient. The planning must provide for actions and measures to safeguard regulated employment rather than resorting to the exploitation of cheap and undeclared work.

The need for the continuous upgrading of working people’s knowledge and skills, taking account of developments on the basis of a comprehensive, worker-centred approach to planning was also highlighted. This includes the training of working people to acquire Standard Vocational Qualifications in all sectors and their safeguarding through the drawing up of collective agreements.

At the same time as the training of workers to obtain Standard Vocational Qualifications, training in health and safety in sectors such as the construction industry must be introduced as a prerequisite.

Finally, the introduction of digital technology and developments in general have highlighted the importance of linking education and training more effectively to the labour market, as well as expanding the possibilities of vocational guidance for young people.