Time of Opportunities: uncovering new realities in the working world

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) launched its four-year Time of Opportunities project in 2016 with a view to developing the work of the future, improving the daily lives of employees, and making the world of work more compassionate and equitable.

The Time of Opportunities (Mahdollisuuksien aika in Finnish) project is motivated by three forces of change affecting the world of work and the daily lives of workers:

  • digitalisation,
  • globalisation, and
  • climate change and depletion of natural resources.

The project is co-ordinated by SAK Head of R&D Juha Antila.

“Over the four-year project period we intend to chart the main developments that are changing the world of work and determine what we should know about them, how we can manage them, and how we can initiate a public debate in this field.”

Beginning with a review of adult education and the platform economy

The Time of Opportunities project will focus on two main themes or phenomena each year. The themes in 2017 are new adult education and employee empowerment in the platform economy.

In the field of adult education, SAK was investigating such aspects as incentives and obstacles to vocational retraining of mature students, low threshold studying options to improve work-related digital skills, and the effects of education on employment and joblessness. The findings were published in three Finnish language reports, in news items and in personal biographies and video materials describing the experiences of adults who change occupation.

Studies of the platform economy will be completed in November and December, and this theme will continue in the autumn of next year, with the focus shifting to the role of wages and social welfare on the income of workers in the gig economy.

“People are increasingly working in non-employed capacities, for example in the platform economy, with work also more often transcending international borders. This evolution in approaches to working will lead to changes in current social security legislation,” Juha Antila says.

Another theme of the Time of Opportunities project next year will examine the impact of artificial intelligence on quality of life at work and employee autonomy.

SAK is collaborating with many prominent stakeholders on these themes. Partners to date have included the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra), the Sovelto training and consulting firm, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and the Kalevi Sorsa Foundation.

The findings on each theme will be presented to the Delegate Council of SAK at its biannual meetings in May-June and in November, and also circulated through social media channels and the SAK online service.

“Several work schemes will be drawn up for SAK during the project to guide the organisation’s activities in preparing for and managing changes in the world of work,” Antila concludes.

Get involved!

You can also participate in the Time of Opportunities project by joining its Facebook group and taking part in discussions on social media.