The Future of Work: Highlights from our March Webinar

As technology changes the face of the global economy, it is becoming more and more difficult to answer the question, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” We are living in a time in which some current professions may not exist in as little as a decade, but where new, highly skilled positions are evolving to take their place.

In Thursday’s webinar “The Future of Work”, UNA-USA members heard from Kevin Cassidy, Director and Representative to the Bretton Woods and Multilateral Organization for the United States office of the International Labor Organization (ILO). In its 100th year, ILO has developed a report that recognizes the challenges of today’s economy, and creates a human centered agenda surrounding the future of work. This report, entitled “Work for a Brighter Future,” makes its recommendations based on three major pillars of action:

Universal Recognition of Lifelong Learning

  • A one-time education is no longer enough to keep pace with the ever-advancing pace of technology. With aging populations on the rise in major metropolitan areas such as New York City and parts of Asia, ILO sees a future in which individuals are always learning, and continuing to develop new skills and advancing their existing knowledge.
  • In order to continue their education’s momentum, ILO seeks to increase support for workers through transition, specifically from individuals’ academic careers into the workforce, and from the workforce into retirement.
  • ILO believes strengthening social protection is an issue at the core of the future of work. In 2018, global gender pay-gaps ranged from 10-50 percent. By advocating for access to inclusive parental leave programs and childcare, ILO hopes to create a future in which all members of the workforce are compensated equally.

Investing in Institutions of Work

  • ILO believes in investing in workers as people, rather than commodities. It recognizes that productive members of the workforce are mothers, brothers, cousins, and friends before employees, and seeks to invest in institutions that advocate on behalf of workers, and give their valuable time back.

Investing in Decent and Sustainable Work

  • According to Cassidy, rural economies make up two out of every five jobs in the global workforce. Committing to these workers’ fair wages increases not only household income, but individual purchasing power, which can be reinvested back into local economies.
  • By improving energy access, infrastructure, and local businesses, ILO supports Sustainable Development Goal 8, and reshapes incentives to encourage long-term local economic investment.

According to Cassidy, adoption of these pillars would boost productivity, improve skills, and offer individuals greater access to technology, as well as the knowledge to operate it. But at its core, ILO is focused on people. And as Cassidy made clear, the responsibility to create a future in which all members of the international labor force are treated as such is the responsibility of us all.