European Day 2016: The Consequences of Digitalisation for Forecasting and Foresight

Rovaniemi, Finland, 19/08/2016

In politics and science, digitalisation is discussed as the fourth industrial revolution, which will fundamentally change the ways how we work and live. Despite the many debates on its effects on labour, there is little precise and generally accepted knowledge about this phenomenon neither on the national nor on the regional/local level. Those carrying out forecasting and foresight activities have always tried to consider the changing context factors in their models—in the case of demographic transitions, for example, they have been very successful in doing so. The effects of digitalisation on the world of work, however, constitute a dilemma that needs to be solved: Should we attempt to incorporate the themes in our models, even though we are still exploring the consequences and only starting to analyse the possible interconnections between them? Furthermore, it needs to be considered if those effects cannot be captured easily in traditional forecasting models of whether foresight exercises are far better suited for reflecting on the future challenges and opportunities related to the consequences of digitalisation on the world of work. The contributions of the European Day of the EN RLMM considered these issues from different angles: We saw how traditional labour forecasting initiatives addressed the effects of digitalisation by incorporating novel methods in their models. Furthermore, the example of our host region Lapland demonstrated how in the framework of systematic reflection on the technical and societal changes national and regional/local actors had been carrying out extensive and innovative foresight exercises.