Building human capacity and preparing for labour market transition (Principle 2.4) icon Building human capacity and preparing for labour market transformation (Principle 2.4)

Governments should equip people with the skills for AI and support workers to ensure a fair transition.

  • Governments should work closely with stakeholders to prepare for the transformation of the world of work and of society. They should empower people to effectively use and interact with AI systems across the breadth of applications, including by equipping them with the necessary skills.
  • Governments should take steps, including through social dialogue, to ensure a fair transition for workers as AI is deployed, such as through training programmes along the working life, support for those affected by displacement, and access to new opportunities in the labour market.
  • Governments should also work closely with stakeholders to promote the responsible use of AI at work, to enhance the safety of workers and the quality of jobs, to foster entrepreneurship and productivity, and aim to ensure that the benefits from AI are broadly and fairly shared.

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Rationale for this principle

AI is broadly expected to change the nature of many aspects of life, as it diffuses across sectors. This is particularly true in the context of labour, employment and the workplace – where AI will complement humans in some tasks, replace them in others and generate new types of jobs and work organisation. If poorly managed, these labour market transformations could have significant economic and social costs. In managing these transitions and ensuring they are fair, policy makers – together with stakeholders such as social partners, employer organisations and trade unions – will need to consider questions around social protection, education programmes, skills development, labour market regulation, public employment services, industrial policy, and taxation – as well as the financing of transitions.

Managing fair transitions requires policies for life-long learning, skills development and training that would allow people, and workers (in different contractual contexts) in particular, to interact with AI systems, adapt to AI-generated changes and access new opportunities in the labour market. This includes the skills required of AI practitioners (which are currently in shortage) and those needed for other workers (such as doctors or lawyers) to be able to leverage AI in their areas of expertise, so that AI augments human capabilities. In parallel, skills development policies will need to focus on the distinctly human aspects necessary to complement AI systems, such as judgment, creative and critical thinking and interpersonal communication.

Additionally, AI-led changes to the labour market may require adapting or adopting labour standards and agreements between management and workers, where applicable, to reflect these changes, address possible challenges to equality, diversity and fairness (posed, for example, by data collection and processing), and to reinforce reliable, safe and productive workplaces. This can be achieved through a combination of regulation, social dialogue and collective bargaining1. It is important to allow for flexibility at the workplace while safeguarding workers’ autonomy and job quality.

1 OECD (2019), OECD Employment Outlook 2019: The Future of Work, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9ee00155-en.

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