The Changing world of work

On 23 March 2021 Nesta welcomed over 200 people to a virtual event to discuss the future of work, and the role of technology to help workers navigate the changing labour market.

With a total of 21 speakers across seven sessions, and 28 exhibition booths showcasing CareerTech Challenge innovations, we were able to tackle the big questions about the future of work. This is what we found:

  • We need to put people at the heart of designing solutions to navigate the labour market. Technology can form part of the solution, but needs to be designed with users so it works for them. When designing digital careers services, innovators should engage with their users early and often, using low-cost prototypes to quickly test and validate ideas - and to get inspiration for new ideas to solve users' challenges.
  • Digital access needs to be addressed. Data or internet access is expensive and not uniform in provision across the UK. Lack of digital literacy is a barrier to accessing work, online learning or careers guidance.
  • Understanding what works in terms of online learning or digital careers advice is vital to develop products and platforms that actually help jobseekers make suitable transitions. Evaluating design and impact needs to be a priority, not an afterthought.
  • How governments and innovators think about labour market data is evolving, with advanced AI allowing us to extract new insights into skills demand from entirely new sources, such as job ads. These new sources of data can be invaluable for career changers and policymakers to make informed decisions, but it’s vital these algorithms don’t leave people behind - there’s a need for transparent, open-source and human-led solutions which expand people’s career horizons, rather than shutting them out or reinforcing existing biases.

We also announced the winner and runner up of the CareerTech Challenge Prize as Bob UK and Would You Rather Be, who have been awarded a further £120,000 and £80,000 respectively. Read more about these innovators in this blog.

Watch recordings of all speaker sessions, and find out more about the CareerTech Challenge on the event page.


Emma Selinger

Emma Selinger

Emma Selinger

Assistant Programme Manager

Emma was an Assistant Programme Manager for the CareerTech Challenge.

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