20 May 2020

4 pillars for rebuilding a global workforce

Guy Ryder, General Director of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) was interviewed as part of the Financial Times webinar series "The Global Boardroom" and shared the four pillars that ILO's is working on to rebuild a global workforce post-COVID-19.

As of April 2020, according to ILO, 68% of workers worldwide (more than 2.2B people) had their office closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Globally, a total of 10.5% of working hours were lost in the second quarter of 2020, representing 305M full-time jobs. 436M enterprises are operating in high-risk sectors in the face of drastic economic challenges, including 389M.

Retail trade, motor vehicles, manufacturing, hospitality, food services, real estate and administrative businesses are the sectors most at-risk since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world economy.

Guy Ryder examines the possibilities of rebuilding a global workforce with a thorough framework on which the ILO’s actively working on implementing – articulated around four pillars:

  1. Stimulating the economy and employment with accommodative active fiscal and monetary policies, and enhanced lending and financial support to specific sectors such as health.
  2. Supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes by extending social protection for all, implementing employment retention and sustainability measures, enhancing the employment relationship and provide financial and tax relief for companies.
  3. Protecting workers in the workplace by strengthening health and safety, adapting work arrangements such as flexible and remote working, preventing discrimination and exclusion, providing healthcare and paid leave access for all.
  4. Relying on social dialogue for solutions by strengthening the capacity and resilience of employers’ and workers’ organisations, the capacity of governments, social dialogue and labour relationship, institutions and processes.

Guy Ryder compared this situation to an apocalyptic movie. Whether we like it or not, there will be a ‘new normal’, in relation to continuing lockdown guidelines such as social distancing, policy choices and work flexibility that we make, how we’ll redesign the supply chain and beyond the new normal, the ways we can adapt our world to these challenges in the future.

These difficult times will have highlighted the inherent issues in our current working arrangements globally, and how necessary it is to emphasise both ecological and digital transitions and work out the policies to deal with unprecedented levels of debt.

Will there be a decrease in the supply of foreign workers? This will depend very much on the policies we choose to make but migration is one of the major features that define the future of work, we just need to be managing it better and more fairly.

What priorities should universities be focusing on as they think through their role in rebuilding the global workforce and driving new research and innovation? This question underlines the proximity of academia and economy and shows the importance of the education sector’s role in the context of a rebuilt workforce.

Resetting capitalism

COVID-19 – give you an idea

Where we see the world

436M enterprises at risk

Most vulnerable to social eco impact of pandemic

Average incomes: down by 60%

Global relative poverty

Numbers of sectors at risk: retail trade, manufacturing, accommodation, food services


1: stimulating the economy and employment : fiscal policy, monetary policy, lending and financial support to specific sectors, inc. health sector

2: supporting enterprises, jobs and incomes : extend social protection for all, implement employment, sustain entreprises, make sure they survive, retain employment relationship, necessary, provide financial/tax and other relied for ents

3: Protecting workers in the workplace

Strengthen OSH measures, adapt work arrangements, prevent discrimination and exclusion, provide health access for all, expand access to paid leave

4: social dialogue for solutions: strengthen capacity and resilience of employers and workers organisations, strengthen capacity of Govs

This terrible virus has a feeling of apolyptic movie. It seems to me there are some some different scenarios – the idea whether we like it or not, moving to a new normal

  • It can mean the media prospect whilst we still have to live with the virus, all of the social distancing being necessary
  • Policy choices that we opt for: ILO, 18% is acceptable for remote working
  • Discretional: deglobalisation? Redesign our supply chain?
  • Beyond the New Normal – how can we rest our world of capitalism in line with the challenges

Bring to the surface the underline precarity in current working arrangements

Ex: who’s getting support from the gov?

Pick up again on ecological and digital transition – moments of truth, when the bill becomes payable, work out policies to deal with levels of debts

Contract: very clear, social contract over the LT, collapse or dismantled

Reduction in the supply of foreign workers? Depend very much on the policies we choose to make – hit on migration trends – we better get used to it, continue to be the major feature of future of work – managing it better and more fairly

What priorities should universities be focusing on as they think through their role in rebuilding the global workforce and driving new research and innovation?

Skills sets and educational markets, underline that proximity of academia and economy is.