Technology, climate change, demography, globalisation and changes in social expectations will shape the world of work in the coming years, according to the director general of the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
But, speaking at a recent event organised by the Dublin-based Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Guy Ryder said these five ‘mega-drivers’ of change could inform an approach that puts workers at the heart of economic and labour-market policies.
Ryder said the global pandemic had demonstrated the need to marry economic progress with social happiness. Since the arrival of Covid, he said workers – especially younger ones – were less prepared to work in low-paid, long-hour jobs.
He said Covid gave many people time to think and reflect on their own work, and that this had led to mass resignations and labour-market shortages across the globe as workers sought a better work-life balance.
The ILO is a United Nations body that brings together representatives of workers, employers and governments. Mr. Ryder was previously general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
During the session, which was chaired by Fórsa general secretary Kevin Callinan, Mr Ryder said Covid-19 had caused a crash in labour markets across the world. This was mainly due to the millions of people who were furloughed or let go due to the effects of the pandemic.
The ILO’s research showed that there was still a massive fall in hours worked across the globe in the second quarter of 2020. This recovered in the third quarter and flat-lined in 2021.
Mr Ryder also said the pandemic had worsened the global digital divide, with many workers in better-off countries able to work from home, while others lacked access to internet and other essential infrastructure for new ways of working.
He said women were amongst the primary losers in the pandemic, with around 90% of those who left their jobs across the globe yet to return to the workforce.
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