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21st International Conference of Labour Statisticians

Facing rapid changes in the world of work, labour statisticians meet to update measurement of key concepts of labour statistics

The International Conference of Labour Statisticians, the global standard-setting body for labour market statistics, is meeting at the ILO to review new trends and requirements in data gathering and usage, and methods for measuring key indicators related to advancing social justice.

Press release | 11 October 2023

GENEVA (ILO News) – The 21st International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) has opened with key discussions timetabled on measuring informality, earnings, violence and harassment at work, international labour migration, child labour and forced labour, and other contemporary topics related to labour statistics.

The ICLS is the main forum for discussing the gathering and handling of labour statistics. The 21st Session marks the centenary of this standard-setting mechanism. Member States, along with workers and employers, are due to review relevant recommendations, resolutions, guidelines and standards, and to set the future direction for the measurement of a wide range of topics related to decent work and labour markets.

During the conference, a committee will discuss revising statistical standards on informality, building on a process that began in 2019, with the proposals and considerations contained in a comprehensive report. The revised standards are expected to improve the coverage and comparability of informality statistics between countries and to throw light on working conditions in the informal economy – which employs 2 billion people or about 60 per cent of the world’s employed population.

The conference will also discuss statistical issues relevant to decent work, including indicators associated with the Global Indicator Framework set up to monitor the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“To track all these changes and to monitor progression or regression, policymakers and citizens need, more than ever, sound, reliable and comparable statistical information,” said Celeste Drake, ILO Deputy-Director General, in remarks to the opening of the Conference. “Measuring progress on social justice will be of crucial importance. Data will be required on the various dimensions of social justice – universal human rights, equal access to opportunities, fair distribution and just transitions – all of them advancing through the lens of decent work.”

Also on the plenary agenda are topics on labour market information systems, measuring care work, work-related income, digital platform work, cooperatives and the revision of the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08).

Side events will look at communication challenges in implementing new statistical standards, informality and gender, and south-south and triangular cooperation in the Lusophone countries.

Two special discussion panels will be hosted: one entitled “Reflecting on how to enhance the measurement of social justice in the world of work” and another on digital platform employment.

Rafael Diez de Medina, ILO Chief Statistician and Director of the Department of Statistics, highlighted the important role of the ICLS. ‘’At a time when the world faces a myriad of challenges, the 21st ICLS provides a unique opportunity to reflect on how labour statistics will evolve in the future and how to be better equipped to help countries in advancing social justice and decent work for all. Having comparable accurate official data is the sole guarantee to avoid fake information and empower citizens with transparency,“ he said.

The International Conference of Labour Statisticians is being held at the ILO in Geneva from Wednesday 11 October to Friday 20 October 2023.

In its opening session the conference elected Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada, as Chairperson, and Grace Bediako, Chair, Ghana Statistical Service Governing Board, as Vice-Chairperson. Mr Boon Heng Ang, Director, Ministry of Manpower, Singapore, was elected as Reporter, and Graciela Márquez Colín, President, National Institute of Statistics and Geography of Mexico was elected as Chairperson of the committee on informal economy.

For more information, please contact icls@ilo.org.