European Social Dialogue Committee for the Postal Sector “Trend research for the postal sector in 2030”
Trends impacting the postal industry - A prospective exercise of the European social partners of the postal sector
Programme area: EC Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion DG
Contract number: VS/2017/0374
The project “Trend research for the postal sector in 2030” aims at engaging in an innovative exercise of reflection and research between the European social partners (postal employers and trade unions). In accordance with the prospective method, it aims at elaborating 3 to 5 scenarios on the future of the postal sector, especially from a social perspective. It will be essential to establish a clear framework for following each stage of the reflection leading to the final scenarios and conclusions.
Faced with an acceleration of the transformation, in a digital age, the SDC has increasingly focused its attention on new activities like e-commerce but also on the way traditional activities are and will be impacted by new technologies. This has an impact on jobs and competences as well as on work organization.
Today, the postal sector is indeed at the crossroads of several activities and the increased diversification of postal operators is supported by a relevant social transformation which will continue in the upcoming years. Postal operators need to adapt their work organization to the new challenges and trade unions need to be aware of and involved in these deliberations. In such a fast-moving sector, it is essential to anticipate the upcoming changes. In the future, this transformation will certainly be even quicker.
In this respect, the main evolutions in economy, technology, environment and society with an impact on the postal sector are to be closely monitored. The industry is at a turning point with the world becoming more digitalized. At the same time, the overall world of work itself is changing with need to find the right balance between increased flexibility and security in the upcoming ‘Work 4.0’. More specifically digital technology such as robotics, self-driving vehicles or Exo-Skeletons, to name some of the recent trends, may impact the delivery of tomorrow and the customer experience. Emission free delivery might also be a future demand as well as environmental protection in high population density areas which require concepts for urban center access. It will also be crucial to develop and engage postal workers to cope with future (digital) challenges. This might include reflections on future jobs in delivery and on what will be the challenges and opportunities for the postman/woman of the future.
Due to its importance in society and its large workforce, the postal sector is particularly impacted by the evolutions of the wider environment and context. The objective is therefore to anticipate the main expected trends and identify how the postal sector will potentially look like tomorrow. It is important to consider a medium-term future so that participants can go further than the current situation.
The project “Trend research for the postal sector in 2030” aims at engaging in an innovative exercise of reflection and research between the European social partners. In accordance with the prospective method, it aims at elaborating 3 to 5 scenarios on the future of the postal sector, especially from a social perspective. It will be essential to establish a clear framework for following each stage of the reflection leading to the final scenarios and conclusions. For this purpose, the project will require the support from an external consultant with experience and knowledge in prospective studies and trend research.
The objectives of such an exercise are multiple. It is a common exercise of the social partners to gain a better perception and understanding of the future of the postal industry. It will be important to integrate the viewpoint from both sides and ensure the diversity of contributors and the interactivity of the workshops. This exercise will help to reflect on innovative ideas and activities to maintain and further develop the sustainability of the postal sector in the future. In this sense, the project is fully in line with the objectives of the PSE working group which is to monitor and anticipate the main evolutions in the sector. On a wider perspective it will be in the spirit of the European Commission's Communication on The European social dialogue, a force for innovation and change.
It will be a rich exercise as the different contributors come from both employers’ and unions’ sides. In this regard, it is important to have a relevant representative mix of European social partners from different countries and companies of different size. This takes the different pace of the digital evolution in the postal sector in Europe into account. The added value of the project is the joint learning experience for the social partners. The project should serve as an eye opener and set the developments of the postal industry in a broader context. It will also contribute to explore the challenges and opportunities for the postal sector brought by digital transformation. The prospective process fosters the interaction of different views and teams and will in this sense strengthen the link between social partners. It will also enable them to internalize the topics under discussion. This exercise will in this way directly contribute to enhance the “effectiveness and the quality of social dialogue” as in accordance with the June 2016 Commission’s joint statement on A New start for social dialogue.
The objective of the exercise is to elaborate scenarios on the future of the postal sector. However, it will be important to define the subjects under study and the main questions at stake in order to have a clear scope. In this sense, the social partners will agree on some key activities and related functions to focus on, like (but not exclusively) mail and parcels’ delivery, new proximity services.
The main evolutions in economy, technology, environment and society and their variables will shape the different scenarios. Particular attention will be given to the implications from the digital transformation on work organization and environment in a context of increased development of new forms of employment and possibly increased robotization/automation and its potential impact. Moreover, the evolution of postal operators’ activities going towards an increased diversification will also be an important variable considering its impact on work organization, jobs and skills’ needs. In the framework of these variables’ analysis, the possible differences between countries should be taken into consideration.
On the basis of the different scenarios, the European social partners will draw conclusions for their own work programme and more generally for the main stakeholders from the sector.
The project will contribute to the following objectives and achieve results:
- Contribute to a trend research enabling discussions between the social partners and ensure that they have a better ownership of the way ahead in accordance with the objectives set by the EU 2020 Strategy for Smart, Sustainable, and Inclusive Growth.
- Include some of the main social, economic and environmental issues in the reflections from the European social partners; therefore, contributing to the overall EU reflection on “key challenges ahead for our economies and for our societies” which is a priority of the Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change.
- Better take into consideration the social impacts of the upcoming evolutions, in particular the evolutions of societies and of the world of work in line with the main objectives of the European Pillar of social rights.
- Analyze the impact of digitalization on the work organization, activities and postal environment and support a digital society where citizens have the right digital skills to embrace this transformation, thus fully answering the objectives of the Digital Single Market strategy.
Last updated on 6 December 2018