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The Disruption Council explores the future

| Text: Marie Preisler

Long before the Danish Disruption Council ends its work, it has already identified a range of ways to secure that digitalisation, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) increase wealth and improve welfare, even though many traditional jobs will disappear.

The Disruption Council was established by the Danish government to analyse, debate and present proposals for how Denmark should address the opportunities that technological developments bring. After six out of eight meetings, the Disruption Council has already made its mark, explained Nicolas David Johansen, Chief Consultant at the Danish Ministry of Employment, during a Nordic conference in Stockholm on 15th May 2018. He was presenting some of the Disruption Council’s results so far.

“The Disruption council has helped to make sure Danish workers have the skills needed to face technological developments. The council has discussed and provided input to a tripartite agreement on a stronger and more flexible system for continuing training.”

Another example, said Nicolas Davis Johansen, is the Danish government’s January 2018 launch of a strategy for Denmark’s digital growth. The strategy contains 38 initiatives aimed at securing good frameworks helping businesses make use of new technologies, and making sure all Danes get the right competences to handle a digital future. In order to realise the strategy, the government has set aside one billion Danish kroner (€ 13.4 million), and the overarching aims and concrete measures have been debated by the Disruption Council.

A positive story 

Disruption is not a new phenomenon in Norwegian labour markets, explained Nicolas David Johansen. New technology has made jobs redundant many times before, making people move to other trades. Johansen’s own grandmother did so three times in her career, he told the conference: 

His grandmother was born in 1925, and her first job was to collect boxes for jewellery and chocolate, until a machine took over. Then she found work in a telephone exchange, where workers manually connected calls, until that task was automated. The grandmother’s last job was at a tax office, where she worked with punch cards used to register and store data – until digitalisation made punch cards redundant. 

“After that, my grandmother retired, and to me this is a positive story about how the Nordic countries so far have been good at keeping up with technological advances. We need a new agenda in order to continue that positive development,” he said.

A need for political initiatives

Nicolas David Johansen sees the need for new political initiatives that benefit all – not just people with higher educations. And that is precisely what the Disruption Council has been focusing on, he underlined.

During its seventh and penultimate meeting on 18th-19th June 2018, the Disruption Council will discuss free trade, foreign labour and the Danish flexicurity model. The Disruption Council concludes its work at the end of 2018.

A range of analyses were made to create a basis for the council’s work, for instance on how the work with digital transformation is carried out in five countries which – like Denmark – can be said to be digital frontrunners: Israel, Sweden, Japan, Estonia and the USA.

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