The Adecco Group is excited to be part of the Reshaping Work project, which brings different stakeholders together to discuss the future of work and ways to shape it. Reshaping Work projects and conferences explore the many vital issues around the future of work, the platform economy, and digital innovations.
In participating in diverse roundtables throughout the year, the many actors (28 leading companies, startups, unions, academics, and other stakeholders) share their expertise in ensuring access to social protection; worker representation; algorithmic management and transparency; and reskilling, upskilling, and micro-credentials.
Let’s explore Adecco Group takeaways from both the roundtables and the report.
Access to social protections
The way people find work has fundamentally shifted in recent years. As a result of the digital revolution (and fuelled in part by the 2008 global recession and the COVID-19 pandemic), workers now seek and find jobs in new and different ways.
Moreover, preferences have also changed. More people than ever are looking for alternative ways to perform work. We believe the dominance of the full-time, open-ended work contract is ending; Diverse Forms of Work (DFW) are growing. DFW encompasses a variety of work arrangements, with earnings that range from very low to very high, and many of these arrangements are rife with precarity — that is, persistent economic insecurity.
As DFW grows in popularity, so do challenges around ensuring social protections, public measures aimed at protecting citizens against distress caused by the absence or a major reduction of income from work. As the Reshaping Work report notes, “Striking a balance between fair and decent working conditions while unlocking the innovative potential of diverse forms of work represents a key challenge ahead. This is about supporting workers in their career paths and making sure companies can keep bringing economically efficient solutions of value to consumers, while upholding … values of solidarity and fair working conditions”. The report concludes that policies should ensure baseline social protection for all workers, regardless of their legal status. All stakeholders that took part in the Reshaping Work Dialogue agree.
The Adecco Group’s aim is to make the future work for everyone and to provide decent work opportunities. Agency workers benefit from full social protection as well as equal pay and training opportunities. We believe the agency work model can serve as a leading example for the platform work debate. This model, after all, provides opportunities for flexible work and lowers barriers to entering the labour market, while also offering social protection and access to training (see our article detailing why here).
In a recent paper, we offered a comprehensive study of current opportunities and challenges around platform work, as well as an extensive overview of the regulatory state of play in 16 countries. That paper also draws on the contributions and insights that various platform executives, policy makers and labour organisation representatives have shared with us, culminating in three conclusions and recommendations:
- Social protection is the baseline for all forms of (platform) work.
- Clear criteria are needed to define worker status.
- The price for platform services should reflect the cost of social protection.
For a full exploration of these conclusions, see the paper, “Delivery pending: How to drive a better instant delivery platforms world of work”.
Reskilling, upskilling, and micro-credentials
The report emphasises the urgency of re- and upskilling the workforce in order to address the green and digital transitions, and to address skills shortages both today and in the future. “Jobs are more demanding than ever before in terms of skills required”, it notes, and soft skills are increasingly required, as a result of both the pandemic and the generalisation of remote work.
While much is being done by governments and at the EU level to encourage individuals and companies to engage in re- and upskilling, these policies often overlook those engaged in DFW — which is especially unfortunate because lifelong learning is of particular relevance to them. “Workers in DFW are less likely to have access to training,” reads the report. “Training obligations and opportunities are traditionally defined by collective bargaining agreements, or embedded in an employment relationship, often conducted during working time [and] paid by the employer.”
For those in DFW, by contrast, union membership is limited and there is usually no fixed employer. In practice, such workers must typically self-fund their ongoing training and education — if they are to have any.
At The Adecco Group, we address this gap through a bipartite fund dedicated to training opportunities. And we call for policy makers to include people in DFW in their policies to promote re- and upskilling.
Additionally, The Adecco Group strongly believes micro-credentials could benefit workers in DFW. These credentials provide evidence of learning outcomes acquired through a short, transparently assessed course or module. Micro-credentials, along with other forms validation of skills and competences, are important for DFW mobility within or between sectors, and to different geographic locations. Some benefits:
- Because micro-credential courses tend to be shorter, it is easier to courses to address the most in-demand skills in a fast-changing labour market.
- Programmes are less time-consuming and rigid than other certifications, a key benefit to workers in DFW.
- Micro-credentials can be part of measures targeting labour market inclusion and activation; they are well-suited to facilitating learning and transitions at any stage of life.
- Workers in DFW may make more frequent professional transitions, and often cannot cite an employer as a reference.
But for micro-credentials to truly take hold and benefit those in DFW, certain challenges must be addressed:
- It is relatively difficult at present to verify micro-credentials.
- Recognition of micro-credentials is inconsistent and not widespread.