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Blog: GI-NI PLUS, our Norwegian sister project

By Professor Hans Christian Garmann Johsen (University of Agder)

The University of Agder has received funding from the Norwegian Research Council for initiating a discussion in Norway about the future of work, based on the findings from the GI-NI project. The municipality of Kristiansand and the county of Agder are partners in the project. They are both working on strategies for preparing their region for tomorrow’s work life. The municipality is responsible for primary schools and the county for the high schools. The pupils there are the ones that will spend most of their working career in the future work life that we are now discussing; what should they prepare for, what skills will be required, and what will the workday look like? As we discuss this, we are, hopefully, at the end of a pandemic that has accelerated many processes, like on-line work, platform economy, and home-based work. For the teaching sector, on-line teaching has been used extensively lately. For the restaurant sector and food stores, home delivery has increased. On-line shopping is at an all-time high. Doctors have increased the number of consultations by phone or video conference. 

What will happen next? Over the last ten years, we have seen a sharp increase in academic work. Many of these jobs are within the healthcare sector and, what is called, business services. We might see tendencies to a polarisation between low skilled work within distribution, service sector, building industry and trade, and academic work related to business administration, technical work, and professions. Furthermore, productivity has decreased during the pandemic, and retirement has increased. It is, at the moment, unclear whether all those working from home will go back to work or if part-time work will increase.

Parallel to this, technology changes, with the increased use of intelligent robots and Artificial Intelligence, are changing how the industry works. At the same time, the new Norwegian government announces that the industry and other sectors of the economy will be facing radical changes, as society is bound to become carbon neutral within some years. This will, among others, have severe consequences for the huge oil-related industry in Norway, but it is also a call for all sectors to become sustainable. This development has consequences both for how we work and how we live. Can this indicate the future of work?
Through workshops and discussions with Norwegian partners, where scholars from the GI-NI project will take part, GI-NI PLUS will try to provide a platform for addressing the future of work. In addition, we plan to develop videos for use in schools, to make the coming workforce aware of the reality that might meet them. We do not expect to provide answers to how the future of work will be, but we believe that by bringing together what we know so far, with good reflections on some of the megatrends that we are facing, we can be better prepared for the future of work.