Remarks by ILO Employment Policy Director Sangheon Lee during the presentation of the World Economic Forum report “Towards a reskilling revolution: A future of jobs for all”

Statement | 08 September 2018
Over the past years, the Employment Policy Department has had the privilege to invite distinguished speakers to its seminar series. Today, it is our pleasure to have Ms. Saadia Zahidi from the World Economic Forum (WEF). Saadia is the Head of Social and Economic Agendas and has recently been appointed as a Member of the Managing Board at the WEF. Saadia will speak about reskilling and upskilling strategies in the context of future of work, based on the WEF report that was launched earlier this year: Towards a reskilling revolution: A future of jobs for all. I understand that the report, as other WEF reports, has attracted much interest globally and stimulated many engaging policy debates. In addition, I understand that Saadia will make a brief introduction to a new report, the Future of Jobs, which will soon be launched.

I do not need to explain that these issues have also been extensively, and often very lively, debated at the ILO, especially since we launched the Future of Work initiative. The Global Commission on the Future of Work has been debating how to help workers acquire the skills they need to deal with many challenging transitions as they move through the different stages of their lives.

Within this context, what should be our policy responses? It is not easy to answer, but there seems to be a strong agreement on the need for life-long learning. Yet at the same time, it is clear that life-long learning cannot be “cheap talk”. What we need is a clear vision and viable strategies that should be supported by proper normative frameworks and effective financing mechanisms. Good governance of the lifelong learning system is essential. What is more, life-long learning is everyone’s responsibilities, including workers and enterprises. In this respect, how do we enhance incentives for businesses to invest in training? This is an important question.

These are all critical but difficult questions. Last week, the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers met to discuss these issues, together with the G20 Education Minister. The Joint Declaration adopted at the meeting recognizes “the importance of promoting a holistic, inclusive and lifelong learning approach in skills development policies that respect human rights.”

The Global Commission continues to deliberate on the issues, as they are now preparing their report. As many of you may know, the report will come out in January 2019.

I have made a rather lengthy introduction, as I wanted to highlight the importance of this seminar for the ILO’s initiative on the Future of Work. I am certain that Saadia’s presentation and the subsequent discussion will contribute to the on-going debates at ILO as well as the Global Commission. This is precisely why we have organized this event in collaboration with the Future of Work Secretariat.