G20 Leaders’ Summit

The right policies will create a future of work we want

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, outlined critical future of work issues in a session at the G20 Leaders’ Summit on “Putting People First - Discussion Topics: Global economy; the future of work; women’s empowerment.”

Statement | 30 November 2018
© G20 Argentina
Thank you, Mr President.

As warning signs accumulate concerning future global economic growth prospects, employment growth is already slowing and global real wage growth, at only 1.8 per cent in 2017, stands at its lowest level since 2008. Preliminary estimates suggest that real wage growth in advanced G20 countries will remain at about 0.4 per cent in 2018. The global unemployment rate remains high, with close to 114 million unemployed persons in G20 countries today. This worrying employment situation is expected to persist until 2020 unless remedial measures are taken to support employment, wage growth and enterprise creation.

Our research finds that the opportunities opened by new technologies and the digital economy can boost decent employment creation, if the right policies are in place. This is to say that the Future of Work can be the future we want – one that that provides decent and sustainable work opportunities for all – if we shape it accordingly, putting people first.

This requires firstly, as your Ministers of Labour and Employment concluded in Mendoza, that the institutions of the labour market are strengthened.

Secondly, skills training systems that adapt quickly to changing market needs are essential. That requires a whole-of-government approach, and the Meeting of G20 Ministers of Education and of Labour and Employment in Mendoza stressed that employers need to make greater investments while workers must be ready to reskill, upskill and move between jobs at an accelerated pace to keep up with changes in the nature of work. Stronger social protection systems covering all workers, supporting them through these transitions, can play a critical role in robust lifelong learning.

And finally, Mr President, the future of work must achieve more gender equality. While progress has occurred, the last 15 years has in fact witnessed a slowdown, if not a halt, in reducing gender gaps in labour markets. And the future of work poses risks of widening gaps unless we implement effective policies to address the digital gender divide. Meanwhile globally the gender pay gap stands at around 19 per cent.

Last year, as President Ramaphosa has said, the ILO established a high-level Global Commission on the Future of Work. It will release its report on 22nd January, launching the ILO’s Centenary year. We look forward to reporting to the G20 on its recommendations, and to further discussions on how to deliver decent work for all in the 21st century.