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Information and Library Science

Is the Future of Work Online? Why Online Labour Platforms Act as Skill-Laboratories

December 3, 2020 at 1:00pm2:00pm EST

Virtual (See event details)

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Center for Computational & Data Science (CCDS) at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies presents this Virtual Research Talk with Fabian Stephany.

The talk is motivated by the global challenge of rapidly changing skill requirements for the working population due to task automation, resulting in the paradoxical situation of simultaneous unemployment and labour shortage. This skill gap widens further as technological and social transformation outpaces national education systems and often precise skill requirements for mastering emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), remain opaque. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has tightened company budgets, forced employees to work remotely, and facilitated the global need for agile reskilling.

Online labour platforms could help us to tackle this grand challenge. Websites like UpWork build a globally integrated market that mediates between millions of buyers and sellers of remotely deliverable cognitive work. In the last decade, online labour platforms have become the “laboratories” of “rebundling” of skills, which we will need more in times of task automation and global lockdown scenarios. The data from online labour platforms allow us to overcome re-skilling limitations by assessing the economic benefit of learning a new skill and sketching valuable and individual training pathways. Furthermore, the empirical relationship of digital skill sets can help to establish a common taxonomy to be used by policy makers, education providers, and recruiters, so that job market mismatches can be reduced.

About Fabian Stephany

Fabian is a Social Data Scientist at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), University of Oxford and a Research Affiliate at the Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society in Berlin. Fabian is interested in the application of computational social science in fields like digital skills, labour markets, migration, innovation, and e-governance. With the iLabour project at the OII, he studies the global dynamics of Online Labour Markets.

Stephany holds a Ph.D. and degrees in Economics and Social Sciences from different European institutions, including Universitá Bocconi Milan and University of Cambridge. As an Economist and Senior Data Scientist, Fabian has been working in the private sector and for various actors in the international policy landscape, such as the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank or the OECD in Paris.

This event was published on November 11, 2020.

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