Digitalisation and employment: shaping the future of work


Title: Fund: Policy coherence for sustainable development – ‘Future of work’ measure
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Global, Partner countries: India, Rwanda
Overall term: 2020 to 2023

Teilnehmende eines Internet of Things-Trainings am Digital Transformation Center in Kigali, Ruanda.


Megatrends like digitalisation and automation are fundamentally reshaping the way we work. As new business models, new jobs and new roles are emerging, work is increasingly being relocated around the world and the digital transformation is moving more and more jobs to the cloud. Modern IT is also transforming service exports: while business processes have traditionally been outsourced to call centres, an increasing number of services and micro-tasks are now being delivered by individual workers via digital labour platforms that have become cornerstones of both the gig and cloud economy.

These developments create both opportunities and challenges. They also raise crucial questions: How can the digital transformation of the economy and the labour market be shaped to create more and better jobs? How can people acquire the skills they need for the digital workplace? What opportunities do these new forms of employment offer for women and vulnerable groups? What will the social security systems of the future have to look like? And what must be done to enforce decent working conditions and basic labour and social standards in the digital services sector and the platform economy?

A lively international debate is already taking place around these issues. However, the discourse on the future of work is largely dominated by the perspectives of industrialised nations. Yet, digitalisation transcends national boundaries and has equally far-reaching effects on labour markets and employment in developing countries and emerging economies. As a result, there is a lack of solid analyses and empirical facts, leaving forecasts fraught with great uncertainty. Development partners and donors are facing the challenge of identifying potential scenarios and developing suitable options for action in the countries and regions affected as well as mainstreaming them in the national and international policy dialogue on the future of work.


Intersectoral and sustainable approaches to the future of work are established in national and international policy dialogue.


On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the project advises partner countries of German development cooperation on the opportunities and risks related to the future of work.

Focusing on the partner countries India and Rwanda, the project identifies and analyses trends and developments in order to harness the potential for more and better jobs, to facilitate integration into global value chains, and to be able to mitigate negative impacts at an early stage. It teams up with policymakers and civil society partners in India and Rwanda to develop potential scenarios and cross-sectoral approaches and generate awareness of the topics. Selected projects of development cooperation in the respective countries are also involved in the process.

In collaboration with government representatives, academia and civil-society, the project will organise one-site peer-learning activities and digital events to facilitate the regional and supra-regional exchange of knowledge and experience between interested countries in Africa and Asia.

Based on experience gained from analysis and regional activities, the project will promote close cooperation with international organisations such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) in order to establish the ‘future of work’ as a key issue on the international agenda and contribute to the development of common positions.

The project also contributes to biannual departmental meetings with German ministries, including the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Foreign Office. As part of this, analyses and scenarios for the partner countries as well as relevant regional developments on digital labour markets are presented and discussed. This serves to connect the various perspectives of the ministries more closely and to promote the significance of the topic ‘future of work’ in developing countries and emerging economies in the agenda of the German Government.

Last update: March 2021