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Zimbabwe and The Future of Work

This paper reports on and takes forward perspectives and conversations on the future of work from the “theSpace” high-level debate that took place in Harare on the 16th of September 2016, between international policy makers, academia, the private sector, and Zimbabwean youths. While recognizing that conversations on the future of work have so far been located in normative and exploratory future scenario mapping, the paper argues that such exercises are futile if not grounded on extant local realities and context. It highlights Zimbabwe’s context as that of an economy that is highly informal, with a large unskilled worker pool, which is not part of unorganized labour. Given the contextual reality, the paper argues that dealing with fundamental human development and institutional defciencies must be a critical part of Zimbabwe’s conversations on, and ability to adapt to the future of work. It suggests that this may be done through a focus on (1.) The transformation of the education system and enhancing learners’ innovation capacities and global competitiveness. (2.) correcting institutional credibility challenges that impede both local and international investment into Zimbabwe’s productive sectors. (3.) Policies and measures that aid a transition from informality to formality. (4.) Preserving space for collective action and organizing. (5.) Locating dialogue on the future of work around the decent work agenda, and the sacrosanctity of social justice. Addressing these crosscutting issues with an accent on decent work defcits and possible threats to social justice, the paper argues, will be of fundamental importance if Zimbabwe and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa are to forestall threats of the fourth technological revolution advancing a few people while banishing millions to poverty.

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