In 2028, European labor markets are likely to look quite different than they do today. Technological trends such as digitization and the advent of online job platforms are colliding with long-term demographic and cultural shifts to reshape how and where work is performed, and by whom. The gig economy is growing, offering new opportunities for flexible work, while traditional, stable employer-employee relationships are becoming more rare.
These developments hold important implications for all workers, but they are likely to be particularly acutely felt by immigrants and refugees. Many newcomers already face barriers to entering and succeeding in European labor markets—from difficulty having previously earned credentials and experience recognized, to limited host-country language proficiency and professional connections. And while the changes on the horizon may open new opportunities for some, for others they threaten to reinforce these existing obstacles. Much will depend on the decisions policymakers make today.
This report examines the key forces shaping the future of work in Europe, before sketching a set of possible scenarios for how these factors may affect jobs, welfare and education systems, public services, and immigrant integration. In doing so, the authors highlight how the investments needed to ready all workers for these changes mirror closely those needed to help newly arrived immigrants enter work; programs that help people retrain and update their skills, for example, promise to benefit both native- and foreign-born workers. Crucially, the analysis points to promising innovations to help workers build resilience and to help policymakers navigate the changes to come.