Global Commission believes technological advances will create millions of jobs if all stakeholders work together to seize opportunities

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called on governments to commit to a human-centred agenda to address challenges resulting from the unrivalled transformation in the world of work.

This comes after the release of its Global Commission of the Future of Work report. The ILO makes 10 recommendations which include a “universal labour guarantee”, social protection from birth to old age, and an entitlement to lifelong learning.

The commission, which was chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven earlier this month, has endorsed an agenda that is based on investing in people’s capabilities, institutions of work, and in decent and sustainable work.

The report is the culmination of a 15-month examination by the 27-member commission, which comprises leading figures in labour, business, think-tanks, academia, government and NGOs. 

The recommendations are: 

  • A universal labour guarantee that protects fundamental workers’ rights, an adequate living wage, limits on hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces.
  • Guaranteed social protection from birth to old age that supports people’s needs over the life cycle.
  • A universal entitlement to lifelong learning that enables people to skill, reskill and upskill.
  • Managing technological change to boost decent work, including an international governance system for digital labour platforms.
  • Greater investments in the care, green and rural economies.
  • A transformative and measurable agenda for gender equality.
  • Reshaping business incentives to encourage long-term investments.

The document, which comes at a time when South Africa is starting to look at a more coherent and united approach to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, says there are many opportunities to invest in decent work, close the gender gap and reverse global inequality

“Yet none of this will happen by itself. Without decisive action we will be sleepwalking into a world that widens existing inequalities and uncertainties,” the report reads. 

It says that while artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will lead to job losses as skills become obsolete, those same technological advances, along with the greening of economies, will also create millions of jobs if new opportunities are seized. 

Ramaphosa said at the launch of the report in Davos that the document is a “vital contribution to global understanding of the changes occurring and that will continue to unfold” in the world of work.

He wants it to stimulate engagement and partnerships within and between national and regional structures.

Löfven agrees the document is essential for helping navigate the advances being experienced across the globe.

“The world of work is undergoing great changes. They create many opportunities for more and better jobs. But governments, trade unions and employers need to work together, to make economies and labour markets more inclusive,” he said.

The ILO is going to be central in helping governments develop and deliver on a “human-centred economic agenda”.

“The issues highlighted in this report matter to people everywhere and to the planet… They may be challenging but we ignore them at our peril,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

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