How can we make globalisation work for everyone? One of the big takeaways from the Trumpquake and Brexit tsunami of 2016 was that many people feel “left behind” by the global economy. Scare tactics about the economic impact of Brexit didn’t work, for example, because many people believe they’ve never felt the economic benefits in the first place.

By any measure, Europe’s economy is booming. Yet, across the continent, many people are still faced with low pay and poor job security. New technology has been blamed for changing the way we work, including “gig economy” apps, automation, and machine learning. However, perhaps technology can also spur investment in precisely those areas of Europe which have seen the most industrial decline and highest rises in unemployment?

On 20 February 2018, Debating Europe attended an event in Brussels co-hosted by Google and Copenhagen Economics. The event was to launch a report looking at the economic impact of Google’s multi-billion investment in data centres, renewable energy, and fibre across Europe, as well as discussing whether technology can be a driver for local job creation and investment. We spoke to some of the panellists during the event, and put comments and questions to them from our readers.

Curious to know more about global tech and local jobs? We’ve put together some facts and figures in the infographic below (click for a bigger version).

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in to us by Joerg, arguing that high-tech investment might not actually result in many jobs: “In the long run, with the increasing degree of automation, you might not have so many workers. The rate of jobs eliminated is higher than of those that are being created at the moment.”

So, will high-tech investment really deliver lots of jobs? To get a response, we spoke to Bruno Basalisco, Managing Economist at Copenhagen Economics. What would he say to Joerg?

We also had a comment from Michael, who wondered whether new technology can also create low-skilled jobs. Will high-tech investment create a small number of highly-skilled positions (engineers, technicians, etc.)? Or can it also provide well-paid, secure jobs for people who aren’t software engineers? Because Michael points out that not everybody can be highly-skilled, and many people depend on low- or medium-skilled work to get by.

We put Michael’s comment to Henna Virkkunen, a Member of the European Parliament from Finland. How would she respond?

Finally, we had a comment from Naina, who believes strongly in the importance of local economies. Will money invested in local economies by tech companies actually be spent locally? Or will workers be bussed in from outside the area?

To get a reaction, we put Naina’s comment to Matt Brittin, President of EMEA Business & Operations at Google. How would he respond?

Can technology revive regions left behind by globalisation? Will it boost local economies? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Leonardo Rizzi
Editorially independent content supported by: Google. See our FAQ for more details.



16 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Rui

    Perhaps it is precisely too much technology, one of the factors that contributed the most, to the exclusion of globalization. For example. technology that destroys the affordable rental market in favor of platforms like Airbnb. Or when it replaces a secure work contract, by the savagery of remote sub-employment.
    Maybe we should stop to think about the benign and harmful effects of technology on the fabric of society, instead of embracing everything that is trendy and new without safeguards and regulations.

  2. Benito

    Technology certainly can, it is as it always has been in history a question of how you use it, I certainly advocate a Green new deal in England. Also, there is a fair amount of money in some rather traditional products, I think in Britain, unlike the French, Italians and Spanish, we have been hopeless at getting our cheeses known outside of the UK, apart from cheddar, when we actually have a really good variety, which is just as good as anything on the continent.

  3. Vassilis

    More Technology requires more Automation ..Therefore lesser jobs .. its mathematics ..

    • Luc

      Than explain me, why are there more people in employment than ever before?

    • Klaus

      Automation doesnt neccesarily mean less jobs.

      It all depends on how its handled

      And just like everything else its barelly handled properly because of allot of stiffling traditional infrastructure

  4. Klaus

    Implementing vertical farming practices where there is totally no infrastructure (which means it can be easily implemented) is a interesting though allong that line.

    This itself has quite allot of interesting effects

  5. Columb

    i doubt it in this country , if a company wanted to set up and run its internationalbusiness from some remote lowly populated area in Ireland i would think someone would object to it ?????
    on another note all robots and manufacturing computer systems should be taxed ?

  6. Oliver

    Less commuting from where we like to live to where we ‘have to’ work. I think remote working will increase for many jobs so it’s important every place has good communications. 4G as a minimum.

  7. Franz-Josef

    How can we share the enormous profits of the global players in the hands of very few shareholders and invest them for the benefit of everyone, above all of those in rural areas ,that should be the question and answered with priority and at first place.

    • Ivan

      You mean steel from those that have it to give it to those that do not ? A political ideology built on envy always fails.

    • Franz-Josef

      Envy, companies which pay no Tax in Ireland?

    • Mel

      But ,Ivan ,its ok for banks and investors to take from the ordenary person ,remember the financial crash where the banks and the markets had to be saved (To big to fail they cried ),,, should be a forced crash next time ,,,,,, perhaps you might find then, that your job is as irrelevant as your point of view

    • Franz-Josef

      Raising tax is obviously stealing?

  8. randomguy2017

    The Western world has so many problems I cant count them atm.
    Some people think technology will solve everything?! Not anytime soon and unlikely ever.

    In fact technology creates many problems. And as more people live in major cities. I see more problems on the way.

    Depression and anxiety are higher than ever.
    the Western world has lots of family issues and culture problems especially since 1960s. Ultrarich get richer.
    Governments spy more than ever.
    People are ignored more than ever.
    People sit on their computers too long, too many smartphone addicts,
    fertility rates are terribly low, sperm counts are lower to dangerous levels, minorities are preferred over the majority of population.

    I feel a lot better when I step away from technology quite often.

  9. Tarquin Farquhar

    Is the siting of a Google data centre in Brussels a ‘suck-up’ to the EU I wonder?

  10. Friedger Müffke

    I don’t see that digital giants want to revive rural areas. They want to get the best conditions for their business. Google has 4 data centers (for 750 million users or so), that is not a lot of rural area covered (see for population density in Europe). Amazon has opened a competition for the location of their head quarters abusing their market position.

    Companies like Google won’t solve that problem.

required Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.