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The FutureWORKS initiative addresses the effects of transformative forces such as artificial intelligence, demographic changes and climate change on labour markets in the Global South.

FutureWORKS is a five-year, CAD10-million investment from IDRC that aims to find solutions through research, innovation and evidence-based policy to foster decent work, resilient skills systems and robust social protection systems to ensure that as many people as possible can benefit from the future of work. 

The challenge 

Disruptive forces such as artificial intelligence and climate change are fundamentally reshaping labour markets around the world. The consequences are uncertain. The transition to a low-carbon, digital economy is a priority for many countries, as it has the potential to create more inclusive and sustainable societies. However, without deliberate effort and policy intervention to guide these transitions and mitigate their impacts, vulnerable populations like women and young people will likely see their already precarious employment situations worsen, especially in lower- and middle-income countries. This affects us all. Eighty-five percent of the world’s working-age population lives in the Global South. This share will increase over the next few decades, heightening the urgency of creating quality jobs and developing adequate skills while addressing climate change. Understanding these drivers of change is key to prepare for the future of work and ensure equitable opportunities for all.  

Our approach 

FutureWORKS responds to these challenges by supporting high-quality, innovative, gender-responsive research to develop skills, strengthen social protection systems and promote decent work throughout the Global South. 

Given the context-specific challenges that come with the future of work, FutureWORKS operates through five regional hubs, led by local partner organizations. These hubs span the regions where IDRC operates: Eastern and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa.  

Each hub develops a targeted regional research plan and leads peer learning and capacity-strengthening activities to ensure research rigour and thematic linkages across the various drivers of the future of work. The hubs and their researchers engage with policymakers, private-sector actors, civil society and workers’ representatives to co-develop and utilize evidence in decision-making. IDRC is also funding a global knowledge-mobilization hub hosted by the Just Jobs Network. The global hub fosters peer learning across regional partners, accompanies them in their work to ensure research quality, synthesizes findings identifying global commonalities while noting regional specificities, and identifies opportunities to position findings for use in policy design.  

Here are the FutureWORKS hubs: