The futures of Reshaping Work Barcelona

07, October

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina Stability tends to disappear, said the Commissioner for Digital ...

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina

Stability tends to disappear, said the Commissioner for Digital Innovation, Electronic Administration and Good Governance of the Barcelona City Council, Michael Donaldson at the beginning of Reshaping Work Barcelona.

Reshaping Work is an initiative that was born in Amsterdam from a concept created by the young Serbian Jovana Karanovic who is a PhD researcher at the KIN Center for Digital Innovation in Vu Amsterdam. Reshaping Work has been replicated in Barcelona and will soon arrive to Sweden,  Serbia and  Latin America.

This event that brings together 150 people has a unique interdisciplinary mix: 30% of startups and companies, 30% of regulation and public policies, 30% of research and academy and 10% of press and platform workers.

Digital platforms are reconfiguring labor relations and the future of work. In Spain, 17% of the economically active people carry out activities through these platforms at least once a week.

Organized impeccably by Ouishare and led by Albert Cañigueral and Liliana Arroyo, the approach in Barcelona was simple and forceful: if we want to design a future in which we  would all like to live, we need different voices and spaces for dialogue where we can create synergies. We need to co create the future of work and shape a new social contract.

After having closely observed a huge range of various forms of platform work, my perspective was the following: it is essential to promote social innovation and develop transferable rights. Making labor markets more dynamic should never  imply informality. Any social contract initiative must contemplate the concept  of decent work.

When existing platforms are revealed, it is noted that some are configured to provide Business to Consumer services and others to do Business to Business. In the latter, it is perceived that in many cases these ones do not adapt to the current regulatory framework. Others work under the regulations of private employment agencies, becoming them, making strategic alliances or establishing business relationships (becoming user companies) with them.

Digital work platforms which provide intermediation so that users can have temporary access to a job, must clearly operate as private employment agencies and must adjust to the regulations that are internationally recognized  in more than 50 countries and in a specific agreement as it is the 181 of the ILO. This is a key factor as, otherwise, we would be facing an irregular situation with lack of rights for workers and an unfair competition for traditional private employment agencies that adjust themselves to regulations in each country where they provide services.

In my presentation at Reshaping Work Barcelona, I also emphasized the contribution of private employment agencies in employability. In my opinion, in an economy in which knowledge is of utmost importance in the creation of value and wealth, the formation of competences based on demand is key to building a modern, dynamic and inclusive labor market. In Latin America it is the key not only to avoid poverty but also exclusion.

We are facing a scenario in which technology has broken through platforms in the world of work, with companies that were born digital and are conceived exponentially. These companies today operate many times in a legal vacuum. On the other hand there is an internationally recognized sector that has existed for more than 50 years that provides various types of workforce solutions if there is an established formal employment relationship, which is heavily regulated and protects workers by guaranteeing fundamental rights, ensuring adequate compensation, professional training, prevention of occupational accidents, security and legality in hiring and veracity in job offers. In addition to these regulations, in many countries there are codes of ethics and good practices that reinforce the key role regulations play in the transition from unemployment to formal employment.

My view has two axes: the first is that it is essential to establish equal conditions ensuring the same treatment for similar services and work methods; the second is that there are opportunities of synergy between many platforms and staffing companies or private employment agencies. Platforms need to develop their services under a  legal framework and with the professionalism private employment agencies have in the formal management of workers. For their part, private employment agencies need to streamline and deepen the digital transformation as that is the ecosystem in which platforms develop better.

While I write these lines, Uber is announcing the launch of Uber Works in Chicago associated with staffing companies who will be the employers of the workers.

My take away from Reshaping Work Barcelona? Two scenarios are opened: one is a tripartite social dialogue that aims at social innovation and another of businesses with enormous opportunities for staffing companies to contribute even more with  the formation of more formal and inclusive labor markets through technology.

About Martin Padulla

Founder and Managing Director of staffingamericalatina. Martin Padulla is Sociologist (USAL), MBA (UCA) and labour markets expert. He published “Flexible Work in South America” and “Regulatory framework for private employment agencies in Latin America” two books about the new realities of work in Latin America. He is working on the project #FOWiberoamerica.

Follow Martín Padulla on Twitter: @MartinPadulla


About staffingamericalatina

It is the unique independent digital media specialized in Latin American´s labour markets.

Produce and spread contents, researches and developments about issues such us Employability, Youth Employment, Training for Employment, Decent Work, Private Employment Agencies, Active policies for employment, Teleworking, Public and private actions for the creation of decent work, Green Jobs and Corporate Social Responsibility.

It is the meeting point for companies, providers, candidates, service´s companies, academics and independent professionals of Latin America.

Follow staffingamericalatina on Twitter: @staffingal