Debate 2018 (R)Evolution @ Work

Following the success of our first two editions, the P&V Foundation organized a new conference-debate this year around the theme of work (and its future), the influence of robotization / computerization, the consequences for (groups of) young people.

This year the debate took place on June 13, 2018 at Bozar, Brussels.

The theme:

P&V Foundation president Olivier Servais addresses a packed room at BOZAR during the P&V Foundation’s "Revolution@work" debate on the future of work.	The robots are coming. More than that, they are already here, which brings many specialists to have a rather dark vision of the future of work. No researcher agrees on the number of jobs that will disappear in the coming years due to robotization and automation.

The pessimistic vision announced by Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, two Oxford researchers (2014), about a job loss estimated at 47%, is doubted by other researchers who say that it does not go that fast in the sense where only parts of certain jobs will be automated. Other researchers focus primarily on the jobs that will be created by automation. What is certain hower, is that robotization and automation will have major consequences for the future labor market.

Even if (all) the jobs will not disappear, some groups will suffer the consequences. Although the work of highly skilled employees may also be at stake, and particularly when it comes to routine work, it is likely to be those with only secondary education or below, who will be particularly vulnerable and affected by these changes.

There already seems to be a tendency towards the polarization of work. The demand for cerebral and routine work is decreasing, while the demand for highly qualified and (to a lesser extent) poorly qualified work is increasing. People from higher education seem to benefit from the computer revolution. This can lead to a "downward shift" in which the middle sector competes with the lower sector of the labor market. This displacement therefore threatens a society in which the work will be distributed even less equitably and where the highly educated can still improve their social position. This growing inequality can be a big danger to social cohesion in society, according to some researchers.

The debate on the influence of automation and robotization should therefore not only focus on the degree of reduction of work, but also on its influence on the organization and quality of work (always existing, reformed or created) , the potential inequalities that go with it, and the social measures needed to remedy these inequalities.The income inequality generated could be (partially) reduced by existing institutions and social security schemes, although some question the extent to which this will be possible in the future and consider it urgent to redesign redistribution and taxation systems.

Concerning the quality of work and the certainty of having a job, the institutions are insufficiently adapted. New technologies would lead to the emergence (more marked) of flexible working methods, in which younger and less educated people are more exposed. This change can lead to higher insecurity and (work) stress, less social protection, fewer opportunities for workplace training, ... fewer opportunities for some of the less educated youth to improve their skills. quality of life (in terms of housing, family, health, pension, ...). Others argue that newly created jobs are not suitable for those who have lost their jobs, so there is a major mismatch between the current skills of some groups of employees and the education offered on the one hand, and labor market of the future on the other hand.

Through our third debate, we wanted to answer the following questions:

  • How to create an "Inclusive Society" for young people and ensure that the robot does not undermine the cohesion of society?
  • What will we do for young people who will find themselves in the flexible work circuit in a sustainable way or who will no longer be able to participate?
  • What opportunities of training can we give to young people on and off their job?
  • What can we do to ensure that the benefits of digitization are shared as widely as possible among all segments of the population?
  • How can we ensure that the huge profits that will be made in certain sectors / businesses do not lead to more polarization but can be used to an equal redistribution?

The speakers

Bas ter Weel

Bas ter Weel, Monique Dagnaud, Jochanan Eynikel and Jean-Claude Daoust, moderated by journalists Han Renard and Béatrice Delvaux, debate on the future of work during the P&V Foundation’s "Revolution@work" debate at BOZAR.Bas ter Weel has been Managing Director of SEO Economic Research since September 2016. He is also Professor of Economics at the University of Amsterdam. Previously, he was Vice President of the Central Planning Board and Professor of Economics at the University of Amsterdam. Maastricht. He has years of experience as a scientist, researcher, supervisor and advisor. His expertise is recognized in the areas of the labor market, flexibilisation, social security and education, as well as in the fields of innovation and technology,international relations and financial business.

Bas ter Weel manages ambitious and complex research projects commissioned by the Dutch government, international organizations, and the business community. Research into new developments, such as the influence of robotization on the future of work, the skills needed in the future, or the possibilities and dangers of flexibilisation, are part of his field.

Bas ter Weel publishes regularly in scientific journals in collaboration with renowned scientific researchers. His most famous work, in collaboration with Nobel laureate James Heckman, was in the area of ​​early child development and the importance of non-cognitive skills for socio-economic success. In addition, he published in the field of (social) innovation and the effects of ICTs on the labor market.

In addition to his work at SEO, Bas ter Weel also has a number of additional positions. He is, among others, a member of the Economic and Social Council (SER), a supervisor of the PCBO School in Apeldoorn, a board member of the Royal Dutch State Economics Association (KVS) and co-editor of De Economist. He is also a researcher at the Tinbergen Institute, IZA (Bonn), ROA, INS (Maastricht) and SKOPE.

Monique Dagnaud

Monique Dagnaud is CNRS Research Director at the Marcel Mauss Institute. She teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales; She teaches in the INA master's degree program and was a lecturer at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris from 1977 to 2008. She was a member of the Conseil Superieur de l'Audiovisuel from 1991 to 1999 and was a member the Supervisory Board of the Le Monde Group from 2005 to 2010.

Her research focuses on communication. She has tackled through articles or books almost all the aspects that concern the sociology of the media, especially from the angle of regulation. She is also interested in the culture of adolescents and post-adolescents. She has done a lot of research on young people, their cultural practices and their difficulties of integration into contemporary society. In 2001, she carried out a general assessment of the work on culture and the way of life of 15-24 year olds; she conducted research on the social and educational environment of juvenile delinquents who committed serious acts (research conducted with Sébastien Roché in 2002); and she also conducted a survey of cultural practices, including festive practices, for 18-24 year olds. Since 2008, she has been exploring the anthropological mutation introduced by the networked society, observing first and foremost the new generations, while Internet use is maturing. This work was the subject of a book published in 2011 published by Sciences Po under the title "Generation Y, young people and social networks: derision to subversion". A new, expanded edition of this book was published in January 2013.

Her last book called: «Le modèle Californien, comment l’esprit collaboratif change le monde» was published in 2016. In this book, she explores the effects and consequences of the collaborative economy born in California, the place where a new model of society and another political imaginary are invented. Based on collaboration and sharing, valuing innovation, entrepreneurship and association, this new society offers the rest of the world the image of a possible future. Nonetheless, it also draws attention to the potential dangers of the collaborative economy, which is essentially set up by highly educated young people.

Monique Dagnaud regularly writes for two websites : Telos-eu and and she is active in various associations fighting for young people's integration.


These speakers were then confronted with the perspectives of Jean-Claude Daoust, a committed entrepreneur and visionary man, president of the Board of Administrators of Daoust Interim, and of Jochanan Eynikel, a business philosopher and expert of human centered entrepreneurship and of future thinking in Etion (Forum for engaged Entrepreneurship), author of "Robot aan het stuur" (Robot at the wheel). Afterwards, they answered questions from the public.

The debate was moderated by Béatrice Delvaux from Le Soir and Han Renard from the Knack.

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13 June 2018

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