European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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In 2016, the European Trade Union Institute set up the 'Foresight Unit' to study the long-term challenges facing the European trade union movement and their implications for the work of the institute.


The purpose is to study the future of work and employment in a changing world and to anticipate what strategic challenges will arise for social and trade union actors.

  • The European Union is undergoing major changes. Its political dynamic is a different one to that of the last century and it is threatened with economic and social fragmentation. Public support, and particularly that of labour, is increasingly critical and even wavering.
  • The world is also changing. The financial crisis of 2008 heralded the onset of a series of political, economic and social upheavals that we have not, it seems, seen the last of. These developments are now converging with powerful forces of withdrawal and competition which heighten the sense of uncertainty about the future of our societies and their coexistence.
  • These complex evolutions also exacerbate the uncertainty around how our societies are planning to overcome the major challenge of the 21st century, which is an existential one for humanity: the struggle against global warming and the vital transition towards a low-carbon economy.
  • Will this transition be prioritised and enabled by the new economic model that is said will emerge from the fourth industrial revolution and the digitalisation of the economy? This is the question that arises at a time when this ‘revolution’ seems to be further worsening inequalities, making employment more precarious and polarising society between a small minority that stands to benefit from it and a majority which seems destined to ever greater social uncertainty.

How can we prepare the world of work for these complex evolutions? How can we anticipate the apparently unpredictable consequences? What will the strategic challenges be that we need to address? Reflecting on these questions is the principal mission of the ETUI’s Foresight Unit.


  • Foresight is neither divination nor projection. It is not about predicting the future any more than it is about projecting the present into the future. The foresight approach adopts a different methodology to the scientific one (therefore distinguishing it from research) and focuses in particular on the construction of scenarios. The approach is based on data collection, the identification of variables, the elaboration of hypotheses and, finally, the writing of scenarios.
  • Through this approach, the ETUI Foresight Unit aims to provide tools of strategic thinking to the European trade union movement. Its mission is to stimulate reflection on the future of employment and labour markets while providing decision-makers with the instruments that allow them to take this future in hand and help to build it.
  • The Foresight Unit also undertakes technological monitoring – the analysis of technological changes and their social impacts – as well as dissemination and awareness-raising through publications, debates, networking and advocacy. 


  • The Foresight Unit is a small team under the supervision of Philippe Pochet, the ETUI’s general director, comprising Christophe Degryse, head of unit, Aïda Ponce Del Castillo, responsible for technology trends and organisational change, and Gérard Valenduc, associated researcher. 


    Anticipating change, staying relevant: why trade unions should do foresight


Christophe Degryse Senior Researcher - Head of the Foresight Unit


Aída Ponce Del Castillo Senior Researcher - Foresight


Gérard Valenduc Associate researcher

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