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The Impact of New Technologies on Labour Markets

The IATF was tasked ‘to further examine the transformative and disruptive potential of new technologies on our labour markets and on the jobs of the future’ in the outcome of the 2017 FfD Forum. In response, the Task Force held a technical meeting on this issue on 3 October 2017, to (i) share Task Force members’ perspectives and ongoing work on this issue, and (ii) to discuss potential focus areas, key issues, messages and recommendations to be included in the 2018 Task Force report.

15 member agencies of the Task Force participated in the meeting. Experts from the ILO, UNCTAD, the World Bank, OECD, and DESA Divisions for Sustainable Development and Policy Analysis and Development presented their agencies’ analytical work in this area.

Issues addressed included the impact of new technologies on labour markets, the quality and quantity of jobs, and on development prospects and strategies for developing countries. The meeting also discussed the interactions of technological change with other megatrends such as climate change, demographic changes and ageing societies, and globalization more broadly.

Several findings emerged from the meeting – the importance of interpreting technological change as only one among many other factors relevant for current developments in labour markets; the need to strongly consider the interplay between technological change and macroeconomic developments; and the distributive impacts of technological change. In this regard, the issue of technology diffusion – both within countries and firms and between countries – was identified as a critical issue that links to the Financing for Development agenda and should be taken up by the Task Force.