As societies change in the face of digital disruption, traditional models of social protection are no longer fit-for-purpose. As more questions arise as to the future of work, people seek reassurance from government of the social protection system’s capacity for sustainable and adequate coverage for the traditional social risks such as unemployment, sickness and ageing.
Governments are challenged in funding the social protection system as revenue streams are disrupted with wealth and capital consolidation as a by-product of globalisation. The rise of the gig economy (self-employment, contracting, casual employment) as digital disruption impacts the labour market is a contributor to rising inequality through a transfer of the insurance burden against social risks is transferred onto the individual. At the same time digitalisation opens new opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty as they gain access to this new emerging labour market for the very first time.
While there is a lot of focus on the future of work, the debate on the future of social protection is not as advanced. Technology represents speed and volume of data and with the advent of real-time data, real-time exchanges, and real-time processing there are significant opportunities for innovation in both the labour market and the social protection system.
In late 2017, I hosted a roundtable of Australian public-sector leaders, academics and business executives, with the aim of making a contribution to the public debate on the future of social protection through ICT enabled innovation. To set the scene, Dr Gianluca Misuraca, from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, Directorate for Growth & Innovation, shared his research on ICT Enabled Social Innovation.
During the roundtable discussion that followed, three themes emerged:
- Active citizenship and trust in government
To keep social protection systems viable and contemporary, governments will seek to leverage the growing amounts of digital data to reform social policy and target scarce resources based on need. This requires a sustained effort to promote active citizenship and rebuild trust with the public to secure a mandate to collect and share data for the common good of addressing wicked social problems.
- Benefits and risks of sharing digital data
People have genuine concerns about governments’ and the private sector’s capabilities to protect personal information and use it wisely for public value creation rather than against them. People’s acceptance of data sharing is akin to a social change movement – not everyone is moving at the same speed, and the rights of those behind the curve of acceptance need to be respected and accommodated.
- The future of welfare in a gig economy
With the rise of the gig or on-demand digital economy, people can experience, either by choice or by necessity, a freelance mix of economic opportunities. The challenge for government’s will be to embed a new level of flexibility to social policy and service delivery to maintain the balance of sustainability, adequacy and coverage of the social protection system as the future work environment transforms.
Moving forward requires a new active citizenship model where people are consulted and engaged in a co-creation and co-design approach to social policy design and service delivery implementation. It is at this level where social innovation enabled by technology has significant potential to progress the creation of public value within inclusive societies. Key to success is the capability to dynamically respond to people’s needs within their Goldilocks Zone as they experience social risks in the new world of work.
See this post on LinkedIn: Finding the Goldilocks Zone for Social Services in the New World of Work.