Reforms and innovations in labour administration: Efficiency and outreach

Main challenge labour ministries are facing around the world is the efficiency of their work

Study on reforms and innovations in national labour administration systems needed to "fill gaps in our knowledge, to be able to provide more useful services to our constituents, to develop practical tools that would be helpful in different parts of the world", says the Director of the ILO Governance and Tripartism Department, Mr Moussa Oumaru.

Statement | 08 December 2015
Dear participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure to be with you this morning and open this exciting and promising meeting.

Let me start with thanking Minister Michaela Marksova, for her invitation to hold the meeting here in the capital of the Czech Republic. We highly appreciate the assistance that the Czech authorities have given us with the organization of this event.

I also appreciate the efforts all of you have made to join us now, in the pre-Christmas period. I know that some of you had to make special arrangements, for example concerning your teaching schedules, to be able to come and I am really grateful for it.

I am pretty sure it will not be wasted time for anybody and I will explain why.

First, we have very senior academics, practitioners and ILO specialists attending this event. It is always very enriching to bring different categories of experts together. To build a good working relationship with academia has always been part of our ambition, as academics extend our horizons, which are sometimes limited by our everyday work.

Second, most of your presentations will be based on studies that are recent and focused on very topical issues. You interviewed many government officials and experts, but also social partners. You are thus bringing a knowledge that is up to date and verified from different sources.

Third, all your studies are part of one project, coordinated by my colleague Ludek Rychly, on reforms and innovations in national labour administration systems. Your inputs help to make this project coherent and comprehensive.

To be frank with you, it was high time to proceed with such a project. We needed it to fill gaps in our knowledge. But above all, we needed it to be able to provide more useful services to our constituents; to develop practical tools that would be helpful in different parts of the world. And I can assure you that there is a permanent flow of requests for assistance in supporting institutional capacity of national labour administration systems.

It seems that the main challenge labour ministries are facing in all countries of the world, developed or developing, is efficiency of their work - efficiency in dealing with available funds, human resources, efficiency in management, planning and coordination of the whole labour administration system.

As you know very well, the general public in all countries has high expectations from ministries of labour. These expectations have risen significantly thanks to the recent economic crisis.

At the same time, all governments are under pressure to deliver more for less.
Ministries of labour, similarly to other government departments, are asked to measure and evaluate the impact of their interventions.

Many think that private sector methods, such as performance management, decentralization or outsourcing are the best solutions. Others argue that public administration cannot blindly copy private sector prescriptions. And others say that private sector methods are useful, but cannot be used unless a certain number of preconditions exist. I do hope our discussions will give us some guidance in this respect.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The world of work is changing and transforming. The weakening of social partners in most parts of the world raises the question of whether the government should not step in with more protective measures. The typical working relationship is being more and more being replaced by various less typical forms of work and unfortunately, labour administration has difficulties in reaching out to workers in the informal economy.

There are also additional and recent challenges here in Europe, especially those related to unexpected and so far uncontrolled arrival of massive numbers of refugees, especially to Germany, but potentially to other European countries.

It will be interesting to learn from you, how national labour administration systems are dealing with these challenges and emergencies; how they are adapting; how they are reforming. I am very much looking forward to the discussion on labour administration reforms that is planned for today.

Last, but not least, we are all living in the era of tremendous and truly historical changes brought about by digitalization. New technologies present a huge opportunity to enhance the efficiency, but also transparency of public administration. But at the same time, some of your studies point to many challenges and risks related to new technologies.

I am very happy that the ILO can present to you a brand new report on a survey into the use of ICT in labour administration. I recommend you to study this fascinating paper providing a lot of information, but also raising many questions.

Sure, the paper contains many positive stories, including that from developing countries such as Sri Lanka. But even the most positive reports highlight numerous challenges. Challenges related to the costs of new technologies, to difficulties related to public private partnership, to insufficient electronic literacy of labour administrators, etc.

It is thus very good that two sessions of the workshop will be devoted to the ICT-related issues. And it is even better that we have with us a couple of practitioners to share with us their experiences with ICT applications, for example from Belgium and Oman.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I could continue with many other points, but our time is limited so let me stop now to wish all of you a pleasant stay in Prague and a very productive workshop.