Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Stephane Goldstein: information literacy and the future of work : Pam blogs from #ECIL2017

Stephane is the director of Informall which is concerned with promoting Information literacy in the workplace and in other contexts. Past science fiction authors have imagined a dystopian and hyper industrial future world of work, but this hasn't and probably wont come to pass. Stephane introduced some long term workplace trends, for example a trend for less hierarchical organisational structures, that work is becoming less routine and there is an increase in project work, meaning more collaborative and team work. Stephane introduced some emerging characteristics of work, including less security, more entrepreneurial, fragmented in terms of task and space, more working from home and automated or at risk of automation.

 A more optimistic vision of the future is that the workforce will be "ageless", "mindful", "intuitive" and "collaborative". Another vision of the future is that it is a "lattice" rather than a "ladder" model of career progression, meaning that workplaces are more inclusive and collaborative. Going hand in hand with this vision is the idea that the workplace is characterised  by widespread knowledge and information sharing. However these rather rosy view of the modern workplace ignore the fact that there are workers such as cleaners, catering staff, security personnel etc who are on the margins of the organisation - what can information literacy do for them? There is a risk of digital and information exclusions for this type of worker. Stephane reflected on the rise of the gig economy, and how this is positive in flexibility, but negative in terms of job security and exploitation. There is a rise in the availability of the "human cloud", platforms and services that allow individuals to bid for work internationally. This could encourage entrepreneurship, but also it could encourage the emergence of a new "precariat", a class of people with no job security, job stability or career progression. Stephane asks "what can information literacy do for this kind of worker?"

Information literacy could apply to the defence of employment rights for gig economy workers, e.g. recent legal challenges posed by workers at Deliveroo. more and more data is being gathered about work behaviour, and new technologies enable employers to monitor their employees, and this raises concerns about intrusiveness, control, autonomy and data protection. This actually reminded me of a keynote presentation at the lilac conference in 2015 by Julia Jones on trade unions and information literacy  It is important to look at information literacy in the light of ethics relating to the uses of big data.

Information literacy has a place in retraining the evolving workforce, and in thinking about how IL related to lifelong learning, and in helping individuals navigate more complex career pathways. IL can help people adapt to the rapidly changing workplace.

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