WE-TRANSFORM gathers stakeholders in Vienna for the fifth time
In their last gathering in Brussels, WE-TRANSFORM's stakeholders discussed the legal aspects of the workforce transition in the transport sector. In Vienna, dynamic discussions and insightful debates on the whats, whos, whens and hows of policy took centre stage, focusing on the challenges and opportunities presented by the ever-evolving transport landscape.
The EU H2020 project WE-TRANSFORM is dedicated to developing a comprehensive policy agenda that will effectively prepare for the automation transition and the consequent transformation of the workforce in the transport sector. In order to achieve this, WE-TRANSFORM aims to facilitate a constructive dialogue among all relevant parties, including workers, employers, and representatives from various transport modes. By harnessing the collective knowledge and experiences of these stakeholders, the project seeks to collaboratively shape an action-oriented policy agenda.
The initial phase of the project involved an in-depth analysis of the current state-of-the-art, along with gathering input from stakeholders. This process examined barriers to digitalization, both the negative and positive impacts on workers and their skill sets and identified existing initiatives that aim to facilitate this transition.
Currently, the project has entered a new phase that focuses on assessing the social impact of automation on the transport labour force and starting to develop guidelines for future policy recommendations. This involves considering the legal requirements and examining different scenarios for the transformation of the workforce's role in light of automation.
What was discussed in Vienna?
The Vienna Stakeholder Forum Workshop, hosted by AustriaTech, aimed to assess the initial policies outlined in the WE-TRANSFORM analysis of the legal implications of transport automation (to be publicly disclosed in the upcoming weeks). This assessment identifies over 30 regulatory policies, considering stakeholders' input and addressing various circumstances, criticalities, and legal impacts. These policies can be categorized into two groups: those directly addressing work conditions and those pertaining to the broader context, including potential indirect effects on the transport labour market. To provide tangible and actionable policies, the workshop focused on determining the specific content that should be included in the policies, the appropriate methods for implementing the policies, the appropriate timelines and the relevant stakeholders responsible for implementing the policies.
The workshop has successfully reached out to approximately 50 stakeholders, including companies. Representatives from organisations such as the European Parliament, the Noord-Brabant Province Fundación Valenciaport, POLITO, University of Aegean, POLIS, ERTICO, TSI, University of Surrey, Business Tampere, Hellenic Train, IRU, Varna Municipality, and AustriaTech, UIC are among present during the workshop.
Cristina Pronello from the University of Torino, Italy, delivered an introductory address encompassing the project's introduction, exploration of general implications, and a representation of project achievements. This set the stage for the subsequent activities.
Changing (and exchanging) perspectives
To promote a diversity of perspectives, the participants were divided into four groups, each comprising around 10 individuals with varied professional backgrounds. This mix aimed to generate a rich exchange of ideas and expertise. The primary objective of forming these focus groups was to elicit the participants' opinions on the policies provided at the beginning of the session. By incorporating differing viewpoints, the intention was to stimulate debates and foster enriched reflections. The participants were tasked with identifying the policies that intrigued them the most, as well as those they perceived as less important, controversial, or counterproductive. The workshop covered a range of policies across different thematic areas, including public governance and regulation, industrial governance, training and reskilling, and the minimization of labour exclusion and exploitation.
In the afternoon session, the participants engaged in diverse discussions, which aimed to strengthen the content of the policies, identify weaknesses in the listed policies, and incorporate additional policies of interest that may not have been included initially. These discussions centred around the specific thematic areas assigned to the focus groups.
Following these focused deliberations, the stakeholders, representing various perspectives and expertise, would collaborate to draft policies with key elements that would effectively address the challenges at hand. On the second day of the workshop, the Coordinator presented the main goals of the session and explained the methodology that would be employed.
To gather more specific information about policies that emerged as particularly important, open group sessions were proposed. These sessions would facilitate a clearer understanding of topics such as EU harmonization, collective bargaining, the role of local authorities, and the gig economy. By delving deeper into these specific areas, the workshop aimed to develop well-informed and comprehensive policy recommendations.
Final insights, future steps
Vienna's Stakeholder Workshop proved to be an effective means of acquiring knowledge and insights from various mobility and transportation sectors. The stakeholders emphasised the following points:
- Recognising that each regulation policy is interconnected and dependent on one another, there is a need for a comprehensive legal framework at the EU, national, and local levels that address these issues in an integrated manner, understanding the connections between them.
- Advocating for collaboration between workers and decision-makers to proactively shape the EU's policy agenda in response to future digital and automated changes.
- Highlighting the importance of improved communication between autonomous systems and humans, taking into account both legal and human factors.
- Emphasising the significance of local and national training programs as integral components of the policy framework.
- Supporting the development of comprehensive company skills plans and target campaigns for upskilling initiatives to address quantitative skill gaps resulting from digital transformation.
- Addressing specific needs and challenges faced by gig workers, such as subcontracting, rejecting cost-based contracts, and prioritizing worker provisions and fair wages, to further enhance the regulation of platform workers.
- Recognising the role of women in the industry and the importance of ensuring their inclusion and equal treatment, as well as promoting the inclusion of disabled individuals and protecting the interests of the elderly in a rapidly evolving environment.
MEP Daniela Rondinelli closed the 5th Stakeholder Workshop highlighting the value of WE-TRANSFROM and its meetings as a dynamic social dialogue that brings together researchers, trade unions, companies, and politicians to shape the future of the transport workforce collaboratively. As stated by MEP Rondinelli, this vibrant platform fuels innovation and fosters collective ideas, leading to tangible change within the transportation sector.