In her comments to the session, Justina Nixon-Saintil, Global Head of Corporate Responsibility at IBM said that digital skills are “more than ever a passport to opportunity.” She explained the unequal impact of the digital skills gap. “We know that around nine out of 10 jobs across all sectors require digital skills, and that 44% of US citizens lack basic digital skills. The skills gap significantly affects low income populations, and specifically diverse populations.”
To tackle the disproportionate skills gap, IBM is taking an innovative approach to recruitment, dropping traditional barriers to entry that can leave talented people excluded. “You know at least 50% of the jobs we post,” says Ms Nixon-Saintil, “we're not going to require a four year degree, we will look at credentials, we will look at people who have the right skill sets for the right jobs, and this has opened up a lot more opportunity for a more diverse and inclusive workforce.”
A voice for workers in a distributed workforce
Responding to concerns about the challenges faced by remote workers, Liina Carr, Confederal Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation said many companies recognised there were problems but failed to act.
She advocated for a time-served trade union approach to ensuring the rights of remote workers. “A lot can be done through collective bargaining,” she said, “very basic work organisation, like working time. There are big challenges for work-life balance and whether we need to have a right to disconnect. And there’s a question of whether this can be agreed at the company level, or whether it needs to be legislated.”
Laying down a challenge to leaders
The concluding words of Anthony Gooch’s address to the session encapsulate the challenge faced by business leaders, policy makers and governments, as they grapple with shaping the future of work.
“It will be the nature of our policies, our ability to harness the possibilities of today’s unprecedented digital and technological changes, while coping with the challenges they pose, that will determine whether we succeed or fail in creating better workplaces and more inclusive economies and societies.
“It is incumbent on us,” he said, “to build a future of work that works for all.”