Overall, 61% of workers believe that governments are responsible for ensuring a better working world.
January 2, 2023
Future of Work
Labour Market Policy

While workers consider employers (70%) and themselves (65%) to have an even more prominent role, it is clear that governments need to account for changing labour markets in their policies.

In this paper, we address how workers around the world view the role of the government in ensuring a better working life. We look at workers’ experiences and concerns, using our most recent proprietary data from the Global Workforce of the Future Report.

Among those looking for change

Temporary agency work is organised through a triangular relationship between the temporary agency worker, the temporary agency, and the user company. In most countries, Agency Work represents no more than 1-3% of the labour market. Nevertheless, our data shows that agency work is an important entry point into the labour market for a lot of people.

It is also important to note that agency work is prevalent across industries and roles, with equal numbers of desk and non-desk workers having worked via an agency in the past, and slightly more desk workers who are currently employed via an agency.

Career development: scope for public-private partnership?

Workers see the importance of re- and upskilling for career progression. Up to 77% of non-desk workers feel they have current skills gaps, and 70% of all workers believe companies should first train and upskill existing workers for new roles before hiring external candidates. Nevertheless, 23% of workers report they never had any career conversations, so there is room for improvement.

While the numbers differ between regions, it is clear that workers consider that there is a role for the government to support career progress:

Governments though may not always be best placed to provide this support. Indeed, 29% of workers have relied on government unemployment agency to find career advice, but only 12% of those who did so found it to be effective.

There are two roles the public authorities can take to advance this cause: first through incentivizing businesses to provide career support and ensure the activities are best linked to the current state of one professional path. Second, private providers can help government agencies to deliver the tools workers are looking for. These current preferences by workers indicate that there is a lot of potential for private providers to make their career transition and development solutions known to workers.

Government responsibilities – what workers want

Workers generally believe governments should do more to regulate a range of issues that impact labour markets, with only small numbers opposing more regulation. The most notable areas where workers are looking for more regulation are on flexible working schedules and dismissal protection. This combination is an interesting one, showing that workers are simultaneously looking for both flexibility and security.

Other elements where workers would expect a larger role from governments include working hours, and to a lesser degree a 4-day week and shift work. Training is another area where workers expect support. 69% of workers agreed governments should do more in this area, thereby being the third priority for workers, and only 6% think that no government action is needed. For example, governments could consider innovative financing mechanisms for re- and upskilling like Individual Learning Accounts, as well as ensuring better links between the world of education and the world of work by investing in vocational training and apprenticeships.

After the experience from the Covid pandemic, it should not come as a surprise that workers also expect more clarity on remote working, although 9% of workers do not agree that more regulation is needed in this space.

The most contentious issue is regulation on the use of AI in the recruitment, where a much smaller proportion of workers sees a need for governments to do more (43%), and a larger group disagrees that more regulation is needed (18%). This means that before passing sweeping legislation in this area, policy makers would do well to reconnect with voters.

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