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The Changing Nature of Work




Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning

Emerging markets Labour force participation Future of work human capital

The Changing Nature of Work

The Changing Nature of Work

As the global economy continues to grow, the future of work remains a topic for discussion. Technology and innovation have, admittedly, positively contributed to the economy even if people, at the back of their minds, fear the possibility of robots and other machines completely taking over their jobs, leading to unemployment for the majority.

Disruptive innovation continues to affect the way we live. In the same way machine learning has automated tasks and eliminated the need for human intervention in certain workflows, technology opened doors to new opportunities and professions, increased productivity, and improved service delivery. We may not realise it yet, but some of the jobs we have now may not even exist in the future, and jobs that we haven’t thought of at the time being might be the most sought-after ones in a matter of years.

This report highlights the importance of human capital in addressing complex challenges that require more than preemptive and prescriptive solutions. Problem-solving skills, technological knowledge and critical thinking, as well as collaboration, perseverance and empathy, are necessary to fulfilling certain types of jobs; and will become even more crucial in the future.

As innovation leads to progress and progress paves the way for further innovation, developing countries will need to take steps to ensure they can keep up with the global economy years from now. Investing in human capital will be a non-negotiable.

This report presents the World Bank’s new Human Capital Index, which measures the consequences of neglecting investments in human capital in terms of the lost productivity of the next generation of workers. It challenges governments to take better care of their citizens and calls for a universal, guaranteed minimum level of social protection.


  • Foreword
  • Overview
  • Changes in the nature of work
  • What can governments do?
  • Organization of this study
  • The changing nature of work
    • Technology generates jobs
    • How work is changing
    • A simple model of changing work
  • The changing nature of firms
    • Superstar firms
    • Competitive markets
    • Tax avoidance
  • Building human capital
    • Why governments should get involved
    • Why measurement helps
    • The human capital project
  • Lifelong learning
    • Learning in early childhood
    • Tertiary education
    • Adult learning outside the workplace
  • Returns to work
    • Informality
    • Working women
    • Working in agriculture
  • Strengthening social protection
    • Social assistance
    • Social insurance
    • Labour regulation
  • Ideas for social inclusion
    • A global “New Deal”
    • Creating a new social contract
    • Financing social inclusion

This report was originally published on the World Bank website.

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