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Work and Equalities Institute supports new national research centre

Academics from the Work and Equalities Institute are supporting a major new £6.5m research centre into the world of work funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

The Digital Futures at Work Research Centre (Digit) will explore how new digital technologies are profoundly reshaping the world of work and is expected to produce new evidence for policy makers, businesses, and unions on effective adoption of digital technology, the future of skills requirements and productivity.

The centre, which opens in January 2020 and runs for five years, will establish itself as an essential resource for those wanting to understand how new digital technologies are profoundly reshaping the world of work. Drawing on resources from different academic fields of study, Digit will provide theoretically informed, empirically innovative rigorous analysis and international insights into the impact of digitalisation on work.

Professor Jill Rubery, Director of the Work and Equalities Institute (WEI), said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for the WEI to bring its research expertise in work and equalities to bear in the current over-hyped debate on the future of work. Through this research we will be able to find out what is really going on in the world of work.”

Key research questions to be asked by Digit include:

  • What factors affect business adoption and use of technologies, ranging from digitalisation to automation, algorithmic management and Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
  • How does the take-up and impact of these technologies vary by sector, region and country?
  • How is the implementation of digital technologies used to transform work and foster good jobs?
  • What effect does this have for different groups of managers, employees, and the self-employed?
  • What happens to displaced workers and how is technology used to help those looking for work?
  • How are employment laws and regulations changing in response to the impact of digitalisation?
  • How are civil society organisations including trade unions and other NGOs responding?
  • How can we draw on different theoretical insights, methodological approaches and comparative experiences to interpret these changes?

Digit is being jointly led by the Universities of Sussex and Leeds, supported by leading experts from Aberdeen, Cambridge and Monash Universities, as well as from Manchester.