ASIA Future Forum

ASIA Future Forum
ASIA Future Forum

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Future of Work : Towards a New Social Contract

Towards a New Social Contract

Work, which is the foundation of our lives, is changing. Changes in work that began with globalization and demographic changes are now accelerating with technological development in the fourth industrial revolution, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. For example, Platform labor such as chauffeur service, food delivery service arranged in digital networks, has already become part of our daily routine.

Some jobs are destructed, while others are created. With the help of digital network, time-space flexibility allowing us to work anytime and anywhere is taking place. Employment relationship between the labor and management is changing as well. On the one hand, this phenomenon widens the range of choice for working people; on the other hand, there is a risk that people lose their jobs to machines, or labor becomes fragmented and secondary. Change in work also requires changes in social security systems including labor-related laws, pensions, and unemployment benefits, which have been designed based on full-time position fixed at one workplace.

These changes in work asks us what is ¡®Decent work¡¯. A work that delivers a fair income, security in employment, and one that allows us to freely design time and space for child-rearing and get recharged may be defined as 'Decent work'. Whether we could design our future life with decent work which allows us to balance labor, leisure, and family life, and which makes members of society feel a sense of accomplishment and happiness, depends on our choice and consensus.

Korea is already suffering from the longest working hours, the lowest fertility rate and marriage rate among the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). If our work and life remain unchanged, a happy society will never arrive. It is time for our companies to initiate innovation that comes from creativity and productivity of satisfying employees.

It is time for us to discuss the legal and institutional change, in order to make technological changes of the fourth industrial revolution that are transforming our society can lead to happiness in everyday life. We can discuss and seek answers on various topics, such as how to share jobs, how to give flexibility in working hours and space according to the life cycle, and whether we should provide basic income to all citizens according to their reduced working hours. For example, Germany is trying to reach a social consensus on 'Decent work' with the initiative ¡®Arbeit 4.0¡¯, while envisioning a smart workshop with ¡®Industry 4.0¡¯.

The Asia Future Forum that has continued to bring up alternative discourses, such as 'Inclusive Growth', ¡®People-centered Economy¡¯, will seek a way to make a brighter and warmer society, with this year¡¯s keyword ¡®Decent work¡¯.