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But for too many of us, work is far from a labour of love. Over 7 million people in working households live below the poverty line. Pay has yet to recover to its pre-crisis level nearly a decade since the crash. And barely a week passes without another news story reporting the mistreatment of workers.

Will the emergence of new technologies make matters better or worse? While some predict the mass automation of jobs, downward pressure on wages and excessive surveillance in the workplace, others believe a new machine age will usher in work that is more human, productive and purposeful.

With support from our partners, the RSA has launched a new Future Work Centre to explore these impacts in more depth. Our intention is to equip policymakers, employers and educators with the insights to prepare today’s workers for tomorrow’s workplace.

Our Future Work Centre covers three core questions:

  1. What are the drivers behind the ‘good work gap’ – the difference between our vision of good work and the everyday reality?
  2. What impact will radical technologies have on the workplace – including but not limited to artificial intelligence, robotics and digital platforms?
  3. How can we modernise our social contract so that it prepares workers for these shifts?

In answering these questions, we will aim to get behind the headlines, unpick the nuance of debates, and canvass the views of all those who can change the system.

Good work in the new machine age:

The world of work is changing. A new machine age, powered by advances in artificial intelligence, robotics and digital platforms, promises to transform a variety of occupations and sectors. But is this a future to fear or welcome?

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Project Team

Fabian Wallace-Stephens

Fabian Wallace-Stephens

Data Researcher, Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing


Atif Shafique

Atif Shafique

Senior Researcher, Public Services and Communities


Adanna Shallowe

Adanna Shallowe

Manager, RSA Global


Rich Mason

Rich Mason

Intern, Future Work Centre




Social Capital Partners