Lessons from the Global Economic Crisis: International experts share insights in a high level panel discussion at the 2012 ILC in Geneva

In the plenary hall of the 2012 International Labour Conference in Geneva, a panel of high level experts from South Africa, China, Chile, Belgium, Russia and Australia shared their experiences, the challenges and some lessons learned since the Global Economic Crisis began.

Date issued: 13 June 2012 |
Intervention by Wang Xiaochu, Vice Minister, Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (China)
China's rapid rate of growth may be slowing down, according to Wang Xiaochu, China's Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Security. "An economy growing annually by 10% over the past 30 years has a very high cost. We need to change the mode of development, and employment is a priority in that strategy. We will reduce the rate of growth, but we will improve the state of China's economy." The Minister also expressed concern about how the crisis in the Eurozone will be affecting China's growth:

Intervention by Bill Shorten, Minister for Employment (Australia)
A key aspect of Australia's approach to youth unemployment is recognizing that when the economy contracts, it's "last on, first off" for newly hired young people. To deal with that, Bill Shorten, Australia's Minister for Employment told the ILC delegates that Australia now requires "every young person should either be able to find an educational opportunity, a training opportunity, or a job." Australia also used excess revenue from it's booming mining sector to fund programs for the unemployed and disadvantaged.

Russia produces many highly qualified university graduates every year, but there is a gap in the job market between what the students learn in school and what is actually needed by employers. "Reform of vocational training is one of the key challenges we face" said Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Federation of Industrialists and Entreprenuers

Haroon Bhorat, who advises South Africa's Minister of Finance, told the delegates at the ILC that in a country "starved for jobs" there is a debate over providing decent work right away or employment of any kind. "For the 4.5 million unemployed in South Africa, the cost of providing all of them with decent work in the short run is incredibly high."

Intervention by Luc Coortebeeck, ILO Governing Body (Belgium)
Luc Coortebeeck of Belgium, a member of the ILO's Governing Body, warned that the problem of "precarious work" is growing. "You might have a job, but if it is just a small job perhaps your family can't live on what you earn. It's a growing problem everywhere, even in Europe." And Mr. Coortebeeck added while precarious work is a growing trend, the trend toward unionization is declining.

Intervention by Evelyn Matthei, Minister of Labour and Social Security (Chile)
In Chile, Minister of Labour Evelyn Matthei says while Chile has a relatively low unemployment rate, many of the newly employed are people "coming from other countries illegally. They are working without contracts, social security and often are treated badly." Minister Matthei said Chile is working to find way of bringing new people into the labour market while ensuring their rights are preserved. And the Minister talked about the hard lessons Chile learned from it's own financial crisis of 30 years ago... lessons that helped cushion Chile from the worst effects of the global economic crisis.