The WIDER Development Conference 2021 took place online on September 6-8, 2021 organized by UNU-WIDER, Helsinki. On September 8, UNU-MERIT, Maastricht, contributed a Panel Session on The Future of Work chaired by UNU-MERIT Professorial Fellow Klaus F. Zimmermann. Under his guidance, a prominent group of speakers from academia and practice discussed the perspectives for future work in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. UNU-WIDER will soon publish the video of the session.
- Nobuya Haraguchi (UNIDO)
Heads the Research and Industrial Policy Advice Division of UNIDO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, in Vienna
- Sangeeta Khorana (Bournemouth University)
Professor of Economics at Bournemouth University
- Francois Lafond (University of Oxford)
Deputy Director of the Complexity Economics Programme and Lead Researcher at the Institute for New Economic Thinking
- Aurelio Parisotto (ILO)
Senior Economist at the Policy Integration Department
The COVID-19 pandemic impacted upon the way that production is organised and the way in which consumption takes place. There has been a much greater reliance on remote work and an increased use of automation technologies in many sectors, allowing firms to maintain and increase production levels in the face of social distancing and strict lockdowns. On the consumption side, there has been an increased use of e-commerce. To a large extent, such changes were underway prior to the pandemic with the pandemic increasing the speed of change rather than the direction. With vaccines being rolled out – albeit unevenly – and the direct effects of the pandemic beginning to subside in many parts of the world, it is an opportune time to consider the longer-term impacts of the pandemic on the future of work and production. It appears clear that the pandemic will lead to longer-term disruptions to labour markets, with an increased need for reskilling and an increased number of employees switching occupations. In this session, academics and practitioners will debate the longer-run implications of the pandemic on work in the developed and developing world, further considering and identifying what the appropriate policy responses are.