In Europe, digitalisation is transforming the world of work. The corona pandemic is accelerating this process. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) is committed to ensuring that structural changes brought about by digital technologies are applied in a fair and socially responsible way: above all in continuing education and training, new technologies and new forms of work.
Did you read your e-mails on your smartphone on the way to work today? Do you already work alongside a robot? Or are you working from home? Either way: Digital technologies are already transforming the world of work for many employees.
This digital structural change towards “new work” is speeded up by the corona pandemic, - causing further labour-market uncertainty. This is true not only for Germany, but for the entire EU. So, what matters is to seize the opportunities presented by this new world of work.
In Europe the world of work is becoming increasingly digital and the corona pandemic is accelerating this transformation. So, the EU must launch common initiatives now designed to put fairness and social responsibility at the heart of the future world of work.
Huberturs Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs
Across national borders
“New work” not only includes tasks requiring fresh training, but also the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace and the spread of new forms of work, for example in the platform economy. This has an impact on working conditions, pay and social security – and one that affects all European Union (EU) Member States.
We must therefore find a European answer to the question of how we shape this world of work in the future. Together with its EU partners, BMAS is committed to ensuring that the transformation of existing jobs and the emergence of new forms of employment take place in a way that is fair and socially responsible. Digital transformation must go hand in hand with social progress, so that everyone benefits from technological change.
A new culture of continuing education and training in Europe
Continuing education and training is central here: We need training to cope with new tasks in our jobs. It can open up new career paths and help to regain a foothold in the labour market – vital in the current corona pandemic. BMAS will therefore advance the issue of continuing vocational training during Germany’s EU Council Presidency. This includes initiatives based on the "Skills Agenda for Europe" to create a new culture of continuing education and training in Europe. Launched in 2016, the "Skills Agenda for Europe" set out ten measures to provide the right training, skills and support to people in the EU.
Artificial intelligence for new work to be decent work
Continuing education and training is also about teaching the skills required by the digital transformation of the world of work - for example, in dealing with AI. BMAS is committed to ensuring that AI is deployed responsibly and for the benefit of employees in Europe. Current standards of protection, such as employee data protection, must not be undermined by new technologies. On the contrary: AI should help people – for example, by alleviating the burden of physically strenuous work or taking over routine tasks.
Ensuring that new work is decent work
At the same time, new forms of work are emerging, such as platform work, where people carry out activities on or via internet platforms. This includes, for example, text work, IT programming, handyman services and food deliveries. Frequently, those doing the work are neither employees of the platform nor of the client, but are working as own-account workers.
The platform economy offers many opportunities, such as an easier access to new markets and customers. At the same time, however, this form of work leaves many social questions unanswered, such as the social safety net for own-account platform workers in case of illness or job loss. Or transparency about the criteria used in algorithm-based assessments of work performance. That is why BMAS aims to advance the discussion on how to bring fairness to these new forms of working during Germany's Presidency.