FutureWORKS Collective: Charting New Frontiers in the Global South

10 April 2024
ABOUT THIS Perspective

As global labour markets continue to undergo transition induced by rapid technological advancement and climate change, there is not enough research that captures the diverse experiences of the Global South. The FutureWORKS Collective, funded by IDRC Canada, is a consortium of research organisations that will fill this lacuna. The JustJobs Network is proud to be the coordinator of this initiative that underscores the urgency of adapting research and policies to the realities of the Global South.

As we navigate this era marked by rapid technological advancement, human-induced climate change, and an energy transition, the world’s labour markets are undergoing significant transformation. This has sparked a dramatic expansion in research exploring “the future of work” over the last decade. Yet, a considerable portion of this research zeroes in on the Global North with their relatively uniform labour markets and robust institutions. Not enough research captures the diverse experiences of developing countries of the world. 

In stark contrast to more developed countries, the Global South presents a mosaic of complex, uneven, and varied labour markets. Here, where 84 percent of the world’s workforce resides, the dual forces of challenge and opportunity are magnified by the looming potential of a demographic dividend. 1 That is, a large and growing youth population that offers tremendous productive potential.  

Yet, a significant segment of this workforce is engaged in informal employment, often without access to quality jobs, fair compensation, and social protection. The most vulnerable among them bear the brunt of global disruptions, struggling to navigate changing tides with limited resources. 

Given these disparities in the development context, labour market institutions, and the capacity for data collection across developing countries, there is a pressing need for research that is rooted in the specific realities of the Global South. This is especially crucial as the future of work is not a distant horizon to get to, rather it is a current reality unfolding at breakneck speed.  

The FutureWORKS Collective (FWC) is a global initiative funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Canada, that focuses on the opportunities and challenges that these unfolding trends pose for labour markets in the Global South. This initiative strategically positions five distinguished research organisations across the globe as ‘regional hubs’ tasked with understanding the complex changes unfolding in their respective regions.  

The JustJobs Network (JJN) is proud to be the coordinator of this global consortium called the FutureWorks Collective. In this role, JJN will build bridges across regions; it will help create a unified voice and messaging on behalf of the consortium; and it will lift research to aid evidence-based policymaking. At the heart of this collective effort lies the commitment to extend beyond research to also influence policy and practice toward building a more equitable and just world of work.