Mechanical and electrical engineering sector

Mechanical and electrical engineering includes the manufacture and repairing of an enormously diverse range of electrical and electronic products, such as engines, electrical products, consumer electronics, computers, mobile phones and others.

The ILO issued a report on "The production of electronic components for the IT industries: Changing labour force requirements in a global economy" in 2007, which was discussed in a Tripartite Meeting held in Geneva in April. While the United States and Japan remain major exporters, the major developing-country exporters (almost all Asian and including China) account for half of the world's exports of IT products; European players account for a quarter of world exports. Recently there has been a minor industrial revolution as Asian suppliers have been acquiring brand-name companies they had previously supplied, thus evolving from anonymous manufacturers into providers of electronics manufacturing services (EMS).

This has been possible thanks to brand-name holders' need to outsource more. EMS providers' weight grew in world electronics output and employment and they played a major role in the shift of output toward Asia and lower-cost locations. This growth had a fast pace in the 1990s and slowed down in the early 2000s.

The recent economic crisis lightly affected the sector, which continued to grow but at a slower pace. Telecoms, internet and hardware are penetrating the markets and the growth is expected to continue in the future.

ILO has been recently drawing its attention also to e-waste: the disposal and recycling of computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. Every year, up to 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical equipment waste ("e-waste") are generated worldwide and global e-waste generation is growing by about 40 million tons a year (UNEP 2010).