Constituents need to adopt a "triple-A" governance framework of Anticipation, Agility and Adaptation to build an empowered workforce

Address by Mr Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director and OIC, ILO DWT/CO-New Delhi at the ILO-DTNBWEB Workshop on Strengthening Workers' Education in India.

Statement | 27 March 2023
  • Hon’ble Chairperson, Mr Virjesh Upadhyay
  • Hon’ble Director General, Mr Rahul Bhagat
  • Esteemed guests on the panel
  • Respected representatives of the employers’ and workers’ organizations
  • Distinguished colleagues of the Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers’ Education (DTNBWED)
  • Colleagues of the ILO
  • Ladies and gentlemen…
Namaskar and a very good morning to you!

I take immense pleasure to be here today as part of ILO’s global commitment to a most important issue facing the world since we entered the modern industrial era. It is the issue of building an educated and skilled workforce in an ever-transforming world of work. I would like to quote from an old report.

“Modern machine industry depends on a peculiar degree of education, and the attempt to build it up with an illiterate body of workers must be difficult and perilous".... “precisely because of this, the education of industrial labour should receive special attention".

This is a report that is almost a hundred years old now – the Report of the Royal Commission on labour in India, 1927. India took note of this challenge and besides a vast range of measures for generally improving literacy rates, established the Central Board for Workers’ Education in 1958 – now known as the Dattopant Thengadi National Board for Workers’ Education (DTNBWED). For more than 6 decades now, the Board has made immense contributions to preparing our workforce for constantly emerging frontiers in the world of work. And it is to the credit of the Board and the government’s larger effort that today our workers are mostly literate and open to acquiring new skills.

Today, Indian workers are not only making India a global economic power but also are in high demand across so many sectors in so many countries of the world. It is a testimony to the success of the Indian government’s mission of self-reliance and a global outlook. But it is not a static goalpost, we are targeting in our mission. New technology continues to shape and re-shape the world of work. In this context, our constituents, especially the trade unions, need to adopt a “triple-A governance” framework:
  • Anticipation (the ability to understand the dynamics of change that may impact emerging futures),
  • Agility (the organization-wide ability to deal with uncertainty and change) and
  • Adaptation (the ability to translate anticipation and organizational learning into concrete actions and strategies to create desired change).
It is here that the Board assumes a critical role. With its unparalleled network of facilities and trainers, the Board is in a unique position to reach the maximum number of workers and organizations in India, with the latest knowledge and tools for their empowerment. So, when Mr Upadhyay and Mr Bhagat reached out to the ILO with a proposal to collaborate in this mission, I readily agreed.

On its part, the ILO is actively looking out for ways and tools to serve our constituents. Our Bureau of Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) carries out regular training programmes for workers’ organizations through our International Training Centre in Turin, the Global Labour University Network and through our Decent Work Teams active all over the world. Through these efforts we do our best to capacitate our social partners to play a catalytic role in promoting workers’ education.

It is our privilege to have such a capable partner in India, in the Dattopant Thengadi National Board. I am certain that the Board will meet any and every challenge in the way of creating an enlightened workforce in India. It has the means and more importantly the will to meet this objective. And of course, we as ILO are here to provide you full support. I can go on about the immense potential of the DTNBWED and its significance in the national and global scheme of things. But I am sure you will hear more about it from other esteemed speakers today.

I will just say one thing to conclude my address today. Change can be overwhelming, but change is constant and inevitable. I often hear from people how the world has changed so much, so beyond recognition; and how soon people will find it difficult to cope with the change and the technology. But you know, people have always felt like that – in 1927, 1969, 1987, 2002, 2007, 2019… - you pick up any major report from any year on the prospects of the world of work. You will see a constant refrain to unpredictability and change in the working conditions. But we are here today – because we prevailed over the uncertainty every time and we will do so over and over again. And at least for six decades, the DTNBWED has been a major actor in making sure that we prevail. Our workers are prepared to contribute to a new society where they are equal partners in development with equal rights!

I wish you all the best for the next two days. I look forward to an action plan for the DTNBWED that will comprehensively meet the educational needs and aspirations of our millions of workers.