Young people’s voice on the future of work

Debate|Who shapes the future of work, people or technology?

Press release | Online | 27 August 2020
ILO Youth Debate group photo
Beijing (ILO News) – To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations and the Decade of Action on the SDGs, the ILO Beijing Office, in partnership with UNDP and Tencent, organized the first-ever online youth debate on “Who shapes the future of work, people or technology?”

The debate triggered great interest right from the beginning with the organizers receiving over 700 contributions just two weeks after the event was announced. Only six young persons were selected for the final debate in which each of them had the opportunity to present his/her ideas and arguments on the future of work. Young people generally saw technical innovations as offering great opportunities to the world of work, but they were mindful of the need to address human emotions, values and expectations in an appropriate way.

Several experts joined the debate. Mr XI Rui, a renowned young debater, encouraged the young generations to think about the significance of technology to the world of work in order to make informed choices for themselves and the whole society. Mr WANG Yonggang, Executive Director of AI Institute, Sinovation Ventures, shared his expertise and stressed the importance of a good communication between the technology and the social science communities to ensure balanced human-computer interactions. Mr Devanand Ramiah, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in China, pointed out to the existing technological divide, and called for a “leaving-no-one behind” approach to ensure that the poor and vulnerable groups can also benefit from technological advancements.

Ms LI Jiaqi, one of the six selected participants, who argued in favour of “people” as the driving force shaping the future of work, was voted as the “Best Debater” with 10 tickets out of 28.

“It is really encouraging to see that young people see themselves are actors and contributors to the future of work. Eventually, it is up to the people to shape the future of work they want for themselves, for their children and societies and the voice of young people is very important in that process,” said Claire Courteille Mulder, Director of ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia, in her concluding remarks. 

Watch the debate

Debaters in the Final

They are GUO Zhirui(郭智睿) from University of Amsterdam, MAO Zhaorong(毛兆榕) from Zhuhai College of Jilin University and LI Jiaqi(李嘉淇) from Southeast University for “People shapes the future of work” team; NI Sha(妮莎) from Wuhan University, WENG Lingyin(翁凌胤) from China Agriculture University and ZHANG Hanwen(张瀚文) from Tsinghua University for “Technology shapes the future of work” team.

Guest speakers

  • Claire Courteille-Mulder, Director of the ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
  • Devanand Ramiah, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in China
  • WANG Yonggang(王咏刚), Executive Director of AI Institute, Sinovation Ventures
  • XI Rui(席瑞), renowned young debater


Professor ZHANG Wanhong(张万洪) from Law School of Wuhan University and Associate Professor PAN haoyu(潘皞宇) from International Law Department of China Foreign Affairs University instructed the debate.

Other participants

Colleagues from constituent partners, think tank in youth, media partners, UN colleagues and selected applicants of arguments observed the event and participated in voting the “Best Debater”.