IGF 2018 WS #391
Labor 4.0: labor-market & workforce in the Internet Economy


Organizer 1: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 2: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 3: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 4: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Organizer 5: Technical Community, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)

Speaker 1: Richard Barbrook, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 2: Miriam Wimmer, Government, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 3: François Levin, Government, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Mariagrazia SQUICCIARINI, Intergovernmental Organization, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Panel - 90 Min


The format chosen for this session enables both interventions from selected experts representing the full range of the multistakeholder Internet community as well as for the general audience.

The session is a conventional panel in which each speaker will have around 10 minutes to address the policy questions proposed. The last part of the session will comprise a 35-minute open mic session, including remote participation. The five last minutes of the session will be used by the moderator to summarize discussions.

List of speakers:

- Richard Barbrook (Academia, UK) [Confirmed]
- Miriam Wimmer (Government, Brazil) [Confirmed]
- François Levin (Civil Society, France) [Confirmed]
- Mariagrazia SQUICCIARINI (Intergovernmental) [Confirmed]
- Eric Hazan (Private Sector, France) [TBC]

- Sergio Amadeu da Silveira (Technical Community, Brazil) [Confirmed]


The list of confirmed and prospective speakers comprises people from all stakeholder groups and individuals who have convergent and divergent economic, political and social perspectives on the policy question proposed. It also follows a roughly 50/50 gender balance at the time of this submission. Moderators, debaters and speakers come from three different countries and part of them come from the developing World, some of them being newcomers to the IGF space.

The relation between automation and labor has historically been controversial and full of tensions. As technology evolves, jobs creation and destruction happen in tandem with a myriad of social, economic and cultural implications for the people, for governments and for different players in the market: skills that are needed for workers to cope with the demands from the market, levels of wages practiced in a given context, unemployment, pressures exerted over social security and other institutional frameworks that surround the labor market (including in terms of education and capacity development), imbalances in terms of rights and duties of employees and employers and labor-related migratory movements, to name only a few of them. The intensification and the global reach of the Internet Economy today represents a relevant aspect of the intersection of the Internet governance agenda and the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) agenda.

As discussions about digital transformation (and most prominently the Industry 4.0) tend to focus on technological and organizational aspects of the phenomenon, this session aims at re-directing the debate to be more human-centered by approaching the different challenges and opportunities to the labor force that are inherent to the advance of the Internet Economy. In order to do that, the workshop will host a multi-stakeholder panel with selected specialists to reflect upon the following issues: (a) the overall impact of the Internet Economy to work as we know it today; (b) the potential shifts in jobs positions that are expected within the upcoming decade and their meaning for the workforce; (c) skills, capabilities and educational requirements needed to cope with shifts in the labor-market; and (d) the roles of the different stakeholder groups to address the previous questions.

Different organizations have approached those issues. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has produced a yearly-basis report on employment, paying careful attention to the interplays between technical change, globalization and the transformation of the labor market. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) has projected a “new digital revolution” based on the transition from the “consumer Internet” to the “industrial Internet”, in which employment is one of the key variables (alongside GDP growth and productivity) to be impacted by the development and the implementation of digital technologies in different sectors of the Economy. According to the ECLAC, “implementing the Internet of Things is having disruptive impacts in all sectors, and is generating profound changes in economic and social processes, particularly in job creation”.

A report recently published by McKinsey (December 2017) estimates that by 2030 despite potential shifts in occupations in the years ahead there will still be work positions available to maintain full employment. However, it also projects that the achievement of that goal depends on solid economic growth; the evolution of job retraining and workforce skills development; the adaptation of the labor-market to provide for more mobility, flexibility and adaptability; as well as the development of transitory support for workers.

The discussion will be facilitated by the onsite moderators who will guide the debate in each of the proposed “rounds” for the workshop as well as during the Q&A and comments session. The online moderator will make sure the remote participants are represented in the debate.

The evolving Internet economy and all the surrounding attached technologies, artifacts, realities and all sorts of innovations that impact work, workforce and work relations have been carefully scrutinized by different stakeholders, as society have faced big shifts in how to frame labor in the 21st century. McKinsey's report draws possible future scenarios for work positions and workforce, also mentioning the possible "work transitions" through time. The report suggests that despite diverse possibilities ranging from losing, gaining and creation of new job positions, the probable landscape leads to several transitions in the workforce, considering new conditions like AI and Robotics and actions like upgrading skills and switching occupations. The report suggests, for example, that "by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers (3 to 14 percent of the global workforce) will need to switch occupational categories."

Drawing upon those aspects, it's possible to project other issues that are at stake when discussing Internet economy, technology advancements and labor. This discussion is very relevant especially because it's necessary to take into account other aspects barely considered in such debates, like the human aspect of the digital economy. It is quite common to see discussions that focus only on technology inputs and economy outputs within growth, not touching adequately what will be the role of humans, what will be left for them at all, a desirable balance between entrepreneurship and human rights.

This discussion is also connected with the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs debate, as it touches a series of those goals, especially the numbers 8, 9 and 10, respectively "decent work and economic growth", "industry, innovation and infrastructure" and "reduced inequalities". The policy questions to guide this debate are: (a) what is the overall impact of the Internet Economy to work as we know it today?; (b) what are the potential shifts in jobs positions that are expected within the upcoming decade and their meaning for the workforce?; (c) which kind of skills, capabilities and educational requirements are needed to cope with shifts in the labor-market?; and (d) what are the roles of the different stakeholder groups to address the previous questions?

Online Participation

Online participation and interaction will rely on the WebEx platform. Those joining the session using WebEx (either invited members of the round-table or the general audience) will be granted the floor in the Q&A segment of the workshop. People in charge of the moderation will strive to entertain onsite and remote participation indiscriminately. Social media (twitter and facebook) will also be employed by the online moderator who will be in charge of browsing social media using some hashtags (to be defined).