6th Regulating for Decent Work Conference, 8-10 July 2019

Track I. Transitions and transformations in the world of work

Measures of progress in the world’s labour markets have been quite uneven since the global financial crisis. Global unemployment remains high as job creation continues to fall short of the needs of unemployed and new labour market entrants. Working poverty remains widespread with weak progress; though some improvements can be observed in some large emerging economies in Asia, it has worsened in several advanced economies. New forms of non-standard and informal employment have emerged leading to job polarization in most countries irrespective of the levels of development. Labour incomes have been declining and wage growth has not been commensurate with productivity increases even in those countries where joblessness rates have fallen significantly. Market power of businesses has increased in labour markets, worsening domestic and international segmentation. In this uncertain environment, new challenges arise: digital technologies are in the process of disrupting existing business models and skill and training requirements; population aging and international migration are reshaping global labour supply; and climate change poses existential risks to the most vulnerable. In addition, the heightened global political uncertainties that have arisen from these challenges do not help to improve labour market conditions and create the risk that the benefits of current transformations will be concentrated in the hands of few. At the same time, new digital technologies such as artificial intelligence offer the chance for a productivity revival, notably in low-income countries, that would bring much needed improvements to working conditions and employment opportunities for those most at risk.

Track I invites papers that look at the challenges and opportunities that arise from current labour market transformations and offer policy recommendations to ensure transitions for business and workers that are effective, fair and inclusive. While all papers on this topic are welcome, there are several questions that Track I will seek to address:
  • In the age of digital technologies, which occupations and sectors are likely to witness job creation or destruction? Are they adding to or substituting for existing forms of informal and under-employment? What risks and vulnerabilities do these workers face?
  • Where has product market concentration increased and how has this affected wage and productivity growth and job creation?
  • How can sufficient and stable demand for employment be ensured through reforming and strengthening national institutions and the multi-lateral system?
  • To what extent has the content of work in existing occupations changed? What measures are required to address the challenges that workers face in their current occupations?
  • How can current institutions and policies be adjusted to address the challenges of transitions and transformations in the world of work? In particular, what needs to be done to prevent labour market segmentation (both domestically and internationally) and to ensure a more equitable global sharing of technological rents and profits?
  • How do our institutions for education and skill provision need to evolve to prepare the current and future workforce for the changes ahead?
  • Finally, how can we overcome political uncertainty and support the implementation of innovative and progressive policy solutions that benefit workers, businesses and society at large?

Track coordinators: Sukti Dasgupta, Ekkehard Ernst, Valeria Esquivel, Praveen Jha, Sangheon Lee, Aguinaldo Maciente, Anne Posthuma, Arianna Rossi