A brief summary in English.
Technology and innovation have always shaped society. Although things are moving at a rapid pace right now, we are not fully certain of into which direction we are headed.
Globalisation and digitalisation have given people the opportunity to travel, interact and exchange ideas, learn and adapt in completely new ways, like never before. Access to information has opened up minds to find alternative ways to live and create the future.
Simultaneously, these same factors have given rise to a complex world in which we live, act and work. Global competition is tougher and has altered in character. It has an impact on people, markets and communications. And it is a fact that the digital era has transformed our wants and needs. Some jobs will disappear, some will transform and others, previously unheard-of, formed.
And what about those robots? Will they allow us to work less or that some of us will have to work even more? Where will we live and what will need to study and learn to keep up?
New ideas rise and new solutions are formed to meet the challenges ahead. There are many good questions and as many possible answers. Futurion wants to dissect the issues concerning the future labour market and understand them, in depth.
Futurion is a think tank, founded in 2016 by the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees (TCO) and its affiliated trade unions. It is the first of its kind in Sweden, to be independent and created by trade unions.
Our purpose is to study, analyse and foresight the conditions for the future of work and spread knowledge on the Nordic labour market model. We are driven to engage and take the leading role on the issue of future work life and the labour market.Through analysis and dialogue, and with an emphasis on collaborative work with key actors, we explore the issues which concern TCO and its affiliated members. Work life on both an individual as on a structural level, alongside the Swedish labour market, is of interest.
Our target group is anyone who reflects on the current and future state of the Swedish labour market and the complexity of our globalised economy. We act as a knowledge hub and a future lab and deliver insights on key challenges.
Our aim is to understand, ask the right questions and highlight the necessary issues to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. In order to do that, we talk and, more importantly, we listen – at seminars, talks, roundtable discussions, hackathons and through our podcast. We enjoy exchanging ideas and following the facts by attaching our work to scientific studies and the academic sector. Differently put, we provide platforms on which different parties can meet and discuss, instead of providing policy recommendations and concrete action points.
Although one can never be sure, we would like to maintain an optimistic view of the future. Perhaps even dare to say, that it might turn out to be somewhat fantastic.
Here is a short summary and overview of the various Futurion publications. Some of the headings are linked to short English versions of the each report. Click the image for For more information on our reports please contact our Head of Research, Carl Melin at carl.melin [at] futurion.se
If the Trade Unions Didn’t Exist
To gain a better understanding of the impact of trade unions, Futurion commissioned WSP, a professional services and analytics firm, to conduct a counterfactual study of what Sweden would look like if there never had been a trade union movement here. The report, Om Facket Inte Fanns (If the Trade Unions Didn’t Exist), examines this by looking into the effects on wages, income distribution, productivity and employment.
The study shows that unions have the greatest impact on the wage share and income distribution. Our counterfactual analysis shows that the average Swedish worker would otherwise earn approximately €5,700 less a year. Compared with Sweden today, the top decile would see its income rise by around 11 per cent, while the other nine deciles would be worse off, as the average worker would see her income fall by some 13-15 per cent. Most of the income rises for the top decile would also in reality benefit the top 1 per cent, where most of the income comes from capital.
A growing number of actors are raising concerns over increasing inequality as a potential threat to democracy as well as economic development. And the unions play a central part in the fight against this. The effect of unions on productivity is more complex. Since strong unions contribute to a higher wage share, shareholders’ profits, in the aggregate, decrease. This could lead to lower investment and, in turn, lower productivity. At the same time, unions favour lower staff turnover and more satisfied employees, which on the other hand would boost productivity.
An often-heard criticism of unions is that wage levels beyond the equilibrium between the supply of, and demand for, labour lead to higher unemployment. This affects those with the weakest position in the labour market, since it then doesn’t pay to hire the least productive workers.
Futurion’s study affirms these findings. The relationship is however not so clear-cut: strong unions (with high density and established dialogue with employer organisations) have proved to take greater social responsibility—initiating fewer strikes or other belligerent actions—than weaker ones. The Nordic labour market is characterised by responsible unions, which do not claim higher wages than the market and productivity growth can bear.
The Trade Union Movement in Society
No man is an island. The trade union pledge is about not selling one’s labour at a lower price than what has been agreed upon with one’s peers in the labour market. If this pledge is not kept, employers will be able to push wages down and worsen working conditions for everyone. It is, in a way, a price cartel on labour. In theory, it thus imposes a restriction in a free labour market, also leading to higher unemployment rate since the price of labour will be higher than in a free labour market.
This report by Futurion head of research, Carl Melin, summarise research and other insights concerning trade unions and their importance. Conclusively, research shows that strong trade unions are on the whole conducive to the reinforcement of democracy and greater prosperity. This has meant that several institutions that were previously critical to the trade union movement have revised their stance.
The true causes of populism – automation and other changes in the workplace
Futurion’s report confirms that there is a clear correlation between concern among people about what is happening in the labour market, for example the risk of unemployment, and being drawn towards various populist movements.In view of this, the ongoing process of automation may be one important explanation for the increased level of support for organisations such as anti-immigration parties in Sweden and in other countries.
The fact that automation and other changes at the workplace have consequences that we do not always find desirable does not mean that we can stop a trend that is largely positive. But we must manage it and create faith in the future and trust in our systems so that people embrace rather than fear these developments. This represents a challenge for both politicians and social partners.
The report was written by Carl Melin, Research Director at Futurion.
Between idealisation and demonisation – Sweden in an international comparison
In order that the debate on Sweden can be based on facts rather than opinions, Futurion commissioned Professor Jesper Strömbäck to investigate and analyse how Sweden really performs in various comparisons.
How good is Sweden really? Regardless of whether or not we are proud of our country, there are reasons to give some thought to what makes our country special, what is good, what is less good and what should be changed.
In order that the debate on Sweden can be based on facts rather than opinions, Futurion commissioned Professor Jesper Strömbäck to investigate and analyse how Sweden really performs in various comparisons. There are a large number of indexes that compare different countries. The international organisations that produce these take care to ensure that all countries are compared in the same way. This makes it possible to see which countries are performing better than others, without taking a view on the politics of the different countries.
All in all, the reportMellan skönmålning och svartmålning – Sverige i en internationell jämförelse [Between idealisation and demonisation – Sweden in an international comparison] shows that Sweden is performing very well. Sweden is one of the freest, most democratic countries in the world. In comparison with other countries, we also have a good business climate and a labour market model that in many ways works well and facilitates growth and innovation. The analysis shows at the same time that there are areas with potential for improvement.
We at Futurion hope that the report will contribute to the discussion if Sweden’s development and future challenges become more knowledge-based.
The report was written by Jesper Strömbäck, Professor of Journalism and Political Communication at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG) at the University of Gothenburg. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Zurich and the University of Florida. In the years 2011-2013 he was general secretary and chief of staff at the government’s Future Commission at the time. Jesper Strömbäck is also a member of Futurion’s Board.
Concern and fear – a report on Swedish labour market opinion
In Oro och rädsla – en rapport om svensk arbetsmarknadsopinion [Concern and fear – a report on Swedish labour market opinion], we report the results of the survey on Swedish labour market opinion. It shows, among other things, that there has been a strong shift in the belief that technical developments are creating jobs.
Major changes take place all the time in the workplace. Technical development, education, globalisation and demographic changes are just some of the factors of major significance. But the impact is also going in the other direction. Our work and the way it is organised is of tremendous significance for our lives and therefore also for our values, attitudes and behaviour. It is therefore not possible to study the workplace in isolation.
In Concern and fear – a report on Swedish labour market opinion [2017:4] we report the results of the survey on Swedish labour market opinion. It shows, among other things, that there has been a strong shift in the belief that technical developments are creating jobs. The perception shifted dramatically during the 2000s. Swedes do not believe to the same extent as before that new technology is resulting in more jobs. There is a broad belief among politicians and social partners that new technology is good for Sweden and for jobs. A view that does not appear to be shared by the rest of the population.
Another area covered in this report is stress, which has developed to become a major public health problem. It is also something about which many Swedes are concerned. Concern about stress at the workplace is at the same level as concern about the housing shortage and organised crime. Being concerned about stress at the workplace is stressful in itself and risks turning into a vicious circle in which the stress level rises constantly.
It’s all down to me – young people and the workplace
Allt hänger på mig – unga och arbetslivet [It’s all down to me – young people and the workplace] is the telling title of a new report from Futurion, based on focus groups with young people making their way into work. A picture emerges of a generation assuming responsibility with a view that the work environment, employment conditions and a sustainable career are all down to them.
The report is based on the conclusions from a number of focus groups with young people making their way into work. The focus groups were conducted with people aged 16-33, in which some of the participants were at upper secondary school, some were students and some had recently started work. The following perceptions clearly emerge in the focus group discussions:
- A fixed job provides security, as it provides an opportunity for a mortgage and a key to adult life.
- The balance between work and leisure is important, but is entirely up to young people to sort out it for themselves.
- There is a major reality gap between school and work.
Can the manager be an app?
Go from pyramid to platform. Share the talents. Robotise management and let the human manager be a leader. That is the summary of the insights from Futurion’s new paper Kan chefen bli en app? [Can the manager be an app?].
In Futurion’s report Can the manager be an app?, six experts on leadership have their say on digitalisation and leadership in the future. The picture that emerges is that there will be no less need for both creativity and decision-making ability, but that it should be possible to digitalise and rationalise the time-consuming administrative elements of management.
Now more than ever, this is essentially about having the ability to change. The report produces three general insights:
Go from pyramid to platform – utilise digital technology to create less hierarchical organisations.
Robotise management and let managers be leaders – digitalisation makes us into better leaders. And managers.
Share the talents – with digitalised platforms, more people can do what they are really good at, in more places, at the same time!
The report was written by Sandra Adams-Backlund.
Skills of the future – in a digitalised workplace
The report entitled Framtidens färdigheter – i ett digitaliserat arbetsliv [2017:2] [Skills of the future – in a digitalised workplace] shows that the automation of monotonous jobs is nothing new. Historically, it has been the rule rather than the exception and is therefore not something that appears threatening to us any more. It is instead artificial intelligence, machine learning and a totally new generation of robots that are now challenging us. If the machines can teach themselves, and to think and feel – what will be left over for us humans?
This report is a summary of research findings into automation and unique human skills. But anyone looking for simple training manuals risks being disappointed. In an increasingly digitalised and automated labour market, it is more important that we are flexible and constantly learn new things, than trying to find courses that lead to jobs that do not yet exist. We need to keep learning throughout our whole lives – at school, at work and in our leisure time. The report offers a couple of pointers to what we should focus on.
Self-employment – the no-man’s land of the Swedish Partner Model
The report entitled Egenanställningar – den svenska partsmodellens ingenmansland (2017:1) [Self-employment – the no-man’s land of the Swedish Partner Model] investigates the terms and highlights many challenges facing social partners. The risks include increased vulnerability, partly when it comes to how many income-generating assignments will be on offer in future, and partly in terms of how and whether the individual would qualify for unemployment benefit or health insurance. Regulations and security need to keep up with developments.
The report shows that self-employment is most common in the media, theatre, TV, films, other culture, handicrafts, care, health, beauty, construction and cleaning. The reasons for becoming self-employed vary. One reason might be to test a business concept or to combine employment with an interest or a sideline. It may also be that the regulations relating to starting up your own commercial business are perceived to be far too complex.
The report was written by the writer and investigator Mats Wingborg.
Generation clash at work?– values in the workplace of the future
The report entitled Generationskrock på jobbet? – om värderingar i framtidens arbetsliv (2016:3) [Generation clash at work? – values in the workplace of the future], presents surveys from some of the biggest actors, both Swedish and international, relating to young people’s values. The purpose is to paint a broad picture of the values that will affect the workplace of the future and thereby offer a glimpse of possible future scenarios at workplaces.
The report deals with areas such as new ways of learning, driving forces at the workplace, attitudes towards the role of the manager, the need for a balance in life and how companies’ values are becoming increasingly important in the young generation’s choice of career.
Predicting the future of work – then, now and next
The report entitled Att förutsäga arbetets framtid – då, nu och sedan (2016:2) [Predicting the future of work – then, now and next] provides an overview of both Swedish and international forward studies.
There is no linear development or cohesive report about work in the future, which is because of the difficulty in predicting the unexpected (and because many studies highlight what is desirable ahead of what it possible). It is even more difficult to capture slow shifts in lifestyles, preferences, structures and institutions.
The pictures painted of the workplace of the future are therefore characterised by a high degree of uncertainty. But we do know that automation, globalisation and the demographic trend are to a large degree having an effect on the workplace. This will in turn have consequences for social partners. Issues such as a reasonable workload, technological development, skills development to meet the future and leadership-related issues will be dominating the social agenda for many years to come.
The report was written by senior lecturer Kenneth Abrahamsson.
Robotisation, urbanisation, the gig economy – forces affecting the workplace of the future
The report entitled Robotisering, urbanisering, gig economy – krafter som påverkar framtidens arbetsliv (2016:1) [Robotisation, urbanisation, the gig economy – forces affecting the workplace of the future] presents the impact that digitalisation is having on the labour market. Increasing robotisation and automation that both create jobs and render them obsolete. As well as globalisation’s force for change, which combined with new business models and increased requirements for flexibility has resulted in a shift from employee to freelancer and an emerging gig economy.
The intention of this report is not to provide answers, but to present a starting point for additional discussions and studies. We need to know what is creating and driving change and what we need in order to influence developments.
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Futurion AB was founded by TCO , The Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees, and its affiliated trade unions. These affiliated trade unions are listed below:
Unionen – Unionen is Sweden’s largest trade union on the private labour market
Lärarförbundet – The Swedish Teachers’ Union
Vision – The Swedish Union of Local Government Officers
Vårdförbundet – The Swedish Association of Health Professionals
Fackförbundet ST – The Union of Civil Servants
Finansförbundet – The Union of Financial Sector Employees
Polisförbundet – The Union of Swedish Policemen
Journalistförbundet – The Swedish Union of Journalists
Forena – The Union of Insurance Employees
Teaterförbundet – The Swedish Union of Theatrical Employees
Försvarsförbundet – The Union of Civilian Employees in the Defence Forces
TULL-KUST – The Swedish Union of Customs’ and Coastguards Officers
Symf – The Swedish Federation of Professional Musicians