Président : Nicolas van Zeebroeck (ULB)

Vers le total workforce management
François Pichault (HEC-ULiège)

Le développement des nouvelles formes d’emploi transforme la vie des organisations contemporaines. Autrefois cantonnés aux activités périphériques et à faible valeur ajoutée, ces nouveaux modes de mobilisation de la main d’œuvre s’appliquent désormais aux fonctions centrales de l’entreprise, avec pour corollaire une hybridité croissante des collectifs de travail. S’appuyant sur une nouvelle typologie de l’autonomie au travail, ainsi que sur une distinction des types de stratégies possibles, l’objectif de ce papier est d’identifier les enjeux que ces évolutions entraînent pour la fonction RH et de souligner les contours de ce que l’on appelle désormais le total workforce management, en vue de sécuriser les statuts de ces travailleurs atypiques, de leur garantir une marge de manœuvre en matière de contenu du travail et de leur offrir des conditions de travail favorables.

Changements et continuités dans l’évaluation des impacts de la digitalisation sur le travail et l’emploi
Gérard Valenduc (UCLouvain) & Patricia Vendramin (UCLouvain)

Selon certains économistes évolutionnistes, la vague actuelle de digitalisation n’est pas une nouvelle révolution technologique mais le point de basculement entre les phases d’instauration et de déploiement du paradigme technico-économique basé sur l’information numérisée et les réseaux, né dans les années 1980. Ce basculement est fait à la fois de continuités et de ruptures. Il nécessite une approche renouvelée des notions d’emploi et de travail. Or, certaines prévisions alarmistes en matière d’impacts de la digitalisation sur l’emploi se réfèrent toujours à une conception simpliste du travail. Celui-ci ne se réduit pas à un assemblage de tâches plus ou moins remplaçables par des machines intelligentes. Il est le fruit de choix organisationnels et de rapports de forces. Il est en outre porteur d’intégration et de reconnaissance sociale. Penser le travail de demain, c’est aussi penser sa signification individuelle et collective. L’approche évolutionniste nous apprend que, plutôt que de remplacer le travail, la digitalisation déplace les emplois : non seulement entre les maillons successifs des chaînes de valeur, mais aussi entre les métiers et entre les différents statuts du travail. Ce qui est en jeu, c’est l’érosion de la relation d’emploi construite lors du paradigme antérieur. La multiplication de nouvelles formes d’emploi contribue à cette érosion mais elle ne constitue pas pour autant un modèle pour l’avenir.

Digital jobs and robots: a regulatory perspective
Valerio De Stefano (KU Leuven)

This paper aims at filling some gaps in the mainstream debate on automation, the introduction of new technologies at the workplace and the future of work. This debate has concentrated, so far, on how many jobs will be lost as a consequence of technological innovation. This paper examines instead issues related to the quality of jobs in future labour markets. It addresses the detrimental effects on workers of awarding legal capacity and rights and obligation to robots. It examines the implications of practices such as People Analytics and the use of big data and artificial intelligence to manage the workforce. It stresses on an oft-neglected feature of the contract of employment, namely the fact that it vests the employer with authority and managerial prerogatives over workers. It points out that a vital function of labour law is to limit these authority and prerogatives to protect the human dignity of workers. In light of this, it argues that even if a Universal Basic Income were introduced, the existence of managerial prerogatives would still warrant the existence of labour regulation since this regulation is about much more than protecting workers’ income. It then highlights the benefits of human-rights based approaches to labour regulation to protect workers’ privacy against invasive electronic monitoring. It concludes by highlighting the crucial role of collective regulation and social partners in governing automation and the impact of technology at the workplace. It stresses that collective dismissal regulation and the involvement of workers’ representatives in managing and preventing job losses is crucial and that collective actors should actively participate in the governance of technology-enhanced management systems, to ensure a vital “human-in-command” approach.

How the Future of work may unfold: A corporate demand-side perspective
Jacques Bughin (McKinsey Global Institute)

“The revolution need not be automated” (Acemoglu and Resterpo, Project Syndicate, March 2019) – In the current debate over the Future of Work, there is little discussion about how firms anticipate the evolution of their demand for labor and the related mix of skills as they adopt Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools. This article leverages a global survey of 3,000 firms in 10 countries to assess how firm labor demand evolves with AI diffusion. Three findings stand out. First, while a portion of firms anticipates reducing employment as a result of adopting AI technologies, as many companies also anticipate higher labor demand as well as change in mix of employment. Second, the reallocation is one with talent shifting towards more analytic, creative, and interaction skills, and away from administrative and routine–based functions, in line with past trends of skill- and routine-biased technological change, and in line with models of task automation (Acemoglu and Restrepo, 2018). Third, corporate choices about labor demand growth and mix ultimately depend on how fast, and for what purpose, a corporation is absorbing AI technologies. The earlier the adoption, a fortiori to build new products and services and expand market share, the higher the propensity to increase labor demand. We conclude that innovative firms are the best ways to alleviate the fear of unemployment.

Recent debates on the future of work
Andrea Salvatori (OCDE)

This paper provides new information on three selected topics related to both the quality and quantity of jobs that have featured prominently in the debate on the future of work, but for which hard evidence has been limited – job stability, under-employment and changes in the share of well-paid jobs. First, it investigates whether jobs have truly become less stable and, if so, whether these changes are linked to an increase in the mobility of workers between jobs or between jobs and non-employment. Second, the paper examines whether there is a growing risk of under-employment (the extent to which people would like to work more hours than they currently do) rather than technologically driven unemployment. More specifically, it looks at how the risk of under-employment has evolved for different socio-demographic groups, as the growth of the service sector, low-skill occupations and atypical forms of employment have contributed to its overall increase in several countries. Finally, the paper investigates how the chances of getting a middle-paid job have changed for different groups. Again, a key issue here may be that, rather than being confronted by a jobless future, some groups in the labour market may be facing a future where it will be harder to find a well-paid job. A key finding of the analysis is that the labour market experiences of many young people and of those with less than tertiary education have worsened over the past decade. In fact, the young with less than tertiary education have been particularly affected by these changes, as the share experiencing under-employment, non-employment and low pay has increased. While these changes have affected different countries to varying degrees, only two countries (Germany and Poland) have not seen a worsening of any of these indicators for young people with less than tertiary education. The evidence suggests that these patterns are unlikely to be only a hangover of the recent global economic crisis. There is also a clear gender dimension. While the absolute risks of both under employment and non-employment remain higher for women, the risk of non employment for men has increased in most countries (particularly for those with less than tertiary education). Men with less than tertiary education have also experienced proportionally large increases in the risk of under-employment. But women remain more likely to be in low-paid jobs and less likely to be in high-paid ones, despite an improvement in the probability of being in middle-paid jobs.

Labour market polarisation and the role of local job multipliers
Marieke Vandeweyer (KU Leuven & OCDE)

Labour markets in developed countries have been polarising in recent decades. The share of both high-paid and low-paid jobs has been on the rise, at the expense of jobs in the middle of the wage distribution. These middle-paid jobs generally make use of tasks that are highly routine in nature, meaning that they can relatively easily be codified and executed by technology. The demand for high-skilled workers has increased, as high-skill jobs are complementary to technology and often involve creative and socially oriented tasked that cannot be performed by machines. At the lower end of the wage distribution, many jobs are very non-routine in nature, often because of the social aspects involved in many of these jobs. One of the reasons for the significant growth of low-paid employment is the existence of a local job multiplier. The creation of high-skill jobs leads to increased demand for low-skilled workers in the same region, as high-skilled workers outsource domestic tasks, such as childcare and cleaning, and consume leisure services. For European regions, it is estimated that one additional high-tech job is associated with up to five new low-skill jobs. This multiplier is found to be larger in regions with higher immigration, an abundance of less-skilled workers, and lower gross output per capita. Recent estimates suggest that a significant share of jobs is a risk of automation, but also that humans will maintain a competitive advantage in certain tasks. Nonetheless, continuing automation implies that many people will see their jobs change, and that they will need to have the right skills to adapt to these changes.