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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.