3 October 2017

Digitalization of work and digital platforms in Denmark

Half of the Danes use computers or other digital devices extensively at work, while 20 percent uses computerized machines. Digital labour and capital platforms are sources of income for more than 100.000 Danes. These are the results from a large-scale survey on digitization of the danish labour market conducted by researchers from the Employment Relations Research Centre (FAOS), University of Copenhagen.

Digital automation is a reality for many working Danes, but there exists major cross-sectoral variations. This is documented in a large study of digitization of work in Denmark involving 18.000 Danes conducted in spring 2017 via Statistics Denmark.

Half of the working Danes experience what we characterize as office automation – i.e. they use computers/devices at work and answer yes to two out of the following three questions: Do you use 1. computers most of your working hours, 2. programs to handle large amounts of data and 3. internet/intranet. In sectors such as ‘Information and communication’ and ‘Finance and insurance’ more than eight in ten working Danes report of office automation, which also applies to staff with the job function ‘Clerical support’. In addition, one in five working Danes experience machine automation – i.e. rely on computerized machines such as robots or scanners at work. In sectors like ‘Industry, mining and quarrying, energy and supply’ and ‘Agriculture, forestry and fishing’ this number increases to one in three. It is particularly Danes experiencing office automation or machine automation that have been given new types of work tasks in their hob within the last year. Therefore, these groups might in particular need education or further training.

Digital platforms are still a relatively limited phenomenon in Denmark. 2.4 percent of Danes aged 15-74 – equivalent to 100,000 – earned money via digital platforms within the last year. 1 percent earned money through a labour platform - for example Upwork or Happy Helper. 1.5 percent earned money via a capital platform such as Airbnb or GoMore. The majority of those who obtained an income via digital platforms earned less than DKK 25,000 (EUR 3,330) annually before taxes. Earnings via platforms are therefore primarily a supplement to other sources of income like salaries, student allowances, pensions, unemployment benefits, social assistance etc.

Different groups of Danes earn money via labour platforms and capital platforms, but very few have earnings from both types of platforms. Among the group of Danes supplementing their income with earnings from labour platforms, we see an overrepresentation of young, low-paid, low-skilled, unemployed, immigrants and workers with temporary contracts. This group is characterized by either being newcomers to the labour market or having difficulty gaining foothold on the labour market. They might consider digital labour platforms as a stepping stone to regular employment. By contrast, high-skilled and high-earners across different age groups are overrepresented among Danes supplementing their income with earnings from capital platforms. This may be due to the fact that you have to own something, before you can rent it out via a capital platform. Those who are well-established with educational credentials and jobs are more likely to be household owners or to own a car.

The research project was conducted by Anna Ilsøe, Associate Professor, and Louise Weber Madsen, Research Assistant, FAOS, University of Copenhagen.

Read the full report 'Digitalization of the labour market - digital automation and digital platforms in Denmark’ (in Danish).

In case of questions please contact Associate Professor Anna Ilsøe: ai@faos.dk