Future of Work

Keynote address at the 2017 AmCham Talent Summit

By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the 2017 AmCham Talent Summit of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines

Statement | Makati, Philippines | 30 August 2017
  • Mr Ebb Hinchliffe, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines;
  • Mr Ernie Cecilia, Human Capital and Resources Committee Chairman of AmCham;
  • Ms Grace Sorongon, Human Capital and Resources Committee Chairman of AmCham; and
  • Distinguished officials from the government, workers, HR practitioners, employers’ organizations, chambers, and businesses;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
Today’s Summit is very significant as we look at the future of work. At the onset, let me thank and congratulate the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines for this initiative.

It is an honour to be part of this gathering of business and industry representatives, HR and recruitment practitioners, who are at the forefront of the changes and challenges in the world of work.

Major transformations are indeed happening in the world of work – from advances in technology to the impact of climate change to the changing nature of production, employment, demographics and other key areas of transformation.

Have you ever thought about the impact of technology on the quantity and quality of jobs? Will robots replace us? Will there be rising inequality and uncertainty?

What will be the effect of these changes on labour migration, including employment relationships and social contracts? Do you think the skills you acquire today will still be in demand in the future? What are the challenges and opportunities for the youth as they transition into the world of work?

The ILO launched last week a high-level international body to address these challenges of the rapidly transforming world of work.

The Global Commission on the Future of Work will undertake an in-depth examination of the future of work.

The work of the Commission will focus on the relationship between work and society, the challenge of creating decent jobs for all, the organization of work and production, and the governance of work.

As the ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said, “the future of work is not decided for us in advance. It is a future that we must make according to the values and preferences that we choose and through policies that we design and implement.”

The ILO brings together actors of the world of work to help shape a future that works for all. Central to this is the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure that no one is left behind, specifically Goal 8 on promoting fair, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

The Future of Work is about having a shared understanding on issues and challenges as well as possible solutions and strategies to confront these changes, which includes technological advances and innovation, globalization, shifting employment relationships and an increase in vulnerable and precarious forms of employment – with women much more at risk than men.

In many countries, including the Philippines, we have witnessed the impact of technological change, climate change, demographic growth, conflicts and migration, to name a few.

These changes can create jobs, change the nature of jobs and destroy jobs. They present challenges but can also offer opportunities. Creating and destroying or transitioning of jobs require new skills.

Issues at stake here include:
  • employment or more accurately, the lack of productive employment, especially for women, the youth, the low-skilled workers, those who work in the informal economy, vulnerable groups in rural, remote and difficult areas, people with disabilities and indigenous people
  • pervasive inequality and imperative for social protection
  • inclusive and constructive social dialogue, and
  • increasing investments in human capital for sustainable economic development.
The forthcoming Philippine Decent Work Country Diagnostics showed challenges on level of education and skills. While enrolment in technical and vocational education and training has increased, about 20 per cent do not complete their courses. Moreover, significant skills mismatches exist.

It is also crucial to take into account the importance of soft skills for developing the ability to learn, to acquire new skills and knowledge in the face of the future of work.

Focus on creating more skilled workers may not be sufficient to impact on job creation and stronger business performance. Skills demands are determined by the type and nature of jobs and these are closely linked with the type of goods and service that the business offers and how they are produced.

The ILO also recently launched a report on ASEAN in Transformation: How Technology is Changing Jobs and Enterprises, wherein we assessed the key sectors in the Philippines that have a high probability of being automated.

Across all economic sectors in the Philippines, the construction sector and hospitality industry account for the highest shares of workers at high automation risk. Likewise, employment in the business processing outsourcing (BPO) and electronics and electrical products could significantly change due to technological advances.

In the report, it is estimated that 89 per cent of BPO workers are at high risk of automation and could significantly impact women as they account for almost two-thirds of total BPO workers while the electronics and electrical products sector which is mostly low-value added and employs primarily low to medium skilled workers, an estimated 81 per cent of jobs are at high-risk of being automated.

Moreover, the report finds that technology adoption is transforming skill requirements, for example, technology-centred enterprises are requiring high-skilled workers with strong Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) backgrounds as more specialised and technical knowledge will be increasingly in demand.

The report also emphasized the critical work that policymakers, employers and education and training institutions need to do together in order to foster technical skills, strategic thinking as well as communication and teamwork among the workforce, particularly among the young graduates.

With this in mind, it is vital for this Summit to look at:
  • anticipating skills needed in the future to prepare individuals and workers, businesses, governments, and education and training institutions with relevant competences,
  • making formal training systems to be more responsive, flexible and accessible while promoting and strengthening quality apprenticeship programmes,
  • strengthening industry’s role in strategizing and identifying skills demands at the sector level, allowing industries to become a critical player in the skills system; and
  • preparing the skills system to meet the needs of vulnerable workers.
Businesses are key drivers of investments and innovations. Employers, businesses and HR practitioners have a role to play in addressing changes and transformations in the world of work.

Labour markets are transforming at a pace, scale and depth never seen before. The ILO is committed to support novel ideas and innovative solutions to ensure a future of work that works for all.

The ILO will very much welcome your outputs and recommendations and we look forward to receiving the report of this Summit, which will feed into the Future of Work initiative.

We are grateful to the American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines for making this Summit possible and for your contributions to achieve decent and productive work for all.

It is my hope that our partnership will continue as we work together towards bringing significant improvements in the world of work.

I wish you continued success and all the best in all your endeavours.

Thank you!