I’ve been reading Working in the Twenty-First Century, which describes itself as an evidenced-based look at the future of work in the UK over the next 20 years by Michael Moynagh and Richard Worsley, published by the Economic and Social Research Council and The Tomorrow Project.
Four main themes emerge from the report:
The British economy will (be forced to) move up the value chain, changing the nature of the jobs that are available. There will be an amplification of the “hourglass effect”, as jobs in the middle disappear, leading to an economy divided between highly-skilled, high-value work and low-paid service workers.
The UK labour market will continue to be tight, squeezing the supply of key skills and leading to attempts to try and boost labour supply. Areas of likely change are an increase in older workers, an increasing reliance on workers from outside the UK and further moves to greater equality of opportunity for women.
The way people will work will be subject to drastic change (for example a huge rise in mobile working, enabled by technology) but there will be less change in the way they are employed – the authors see a majority remaining in full-time employment. The organisations which provide that employment are likely to adopt a range of structures, from the traditional to newer forms such as virtual and networked organisations.
The nature of work and the management-worker relationship will change as new forms of motivation become the norm, at least at the high-value end of the economy. Here the report authors see that companies will be forced to allow greater autonomy and worker empowerment in order to meet the market demand for customised, responsive services. By contrast, companies providing services in the low-wage, low-value, low-skill service areas are unlikely to see the need to take on the cost of more flexible management methods.
There’s a Tomorrow Project event to discuss the book on 6th October – so I should be blogging some more after that.