Committee on Employment and Social Policy
FIRST ITEM ON THE AGENDA
World Employment Report, 1998-99: Employability
in the global economy -- How training matters
(a) General discussion and policy implications
1. The World Employment Report 1998-99, published by the Office in September 1998, is the third in a series of ILO reports which offer an international perspective on current employment issues. The report reviews the global employment situation and examines how countries, in response to the quickening pace of globalization and technological change, can develop the best training strategy and flexible training systems to address these far-reaching changes. The report presents a close analysis of training systems worldwide and an examination of training strategies for increasing national competitiveness, improving the efficiency of enterprises and promoting employment growth. It critically examines policies and targeted programmes for improving women's employment opportunities and enhancing the skills and employability of informal sector workers and members of vulnerable groups (especially at-risk youth, the long-term unemployed, older displaced workers and workers with disabilities) and comes up with practical and workable suggestions as to how ILO constituents can take steps to improve their existing training systems and make them more effective in responding to the changing needs of the labour market.
2. In the preface to the report, the Director-General points out that, "a better trained labour force can increase competitiveness, ensure better complementarity between human and physical capital, reinforce economic growth, improve job prospects and ease the process of adjustment. The main findings of the report reinforce those of the earlier World Employment reports in that the best results are achieved in an overall growth-promoting environment and when training decisions are taken in close consultation between government, employers and workers." He goes on to state: "The basic message of this report on the increasing importance of training and lifelong learning, given the rapid and continuous change in the demand for skills, is a global one ... There is much that countries can learn from each other's experience in the development and utilization of a better skilled and more adaptable workforce."
3. This item included on the Committee's agenda is designed as an opportunity for the Committee to make its contribution to this important debate. In order to facilitate the discussion, this document will first present a summary of the analyses and conclusions in the report. It will then examine the consequences for ILO activities.
4. The World Employment Report 1998-99 considers the role of training and recent efforts to improve training systems against the backdrop of a continuing depressed employment situation and a rapid globalization of the world economy. Since the ILO's last report on the world employment situation late in 1996, there have been both positive and negative developments in global employment. Yet overall, with few exceptions, the employment situation has remained unfavourable and high levels of unemployment are a source of considerable concern in most parts of the world. Although the employment outlook has picked up somewhat in a number of industrialized countries, this has to be weighed against the persistent difficulties faced by Central and Eastern Europe, and against the worsening situation in East Asia. Elsewhere, in South Asia and in Africa, there has been no significant improvement. In Latin America economic growth has resumed, but unemployment has shown little sign of abating.
5. The ILO estimates that, of a world labour force of 3 billion people, 25 to 30 per cent are underemployed and about 140 million workers are fully unemployed. Mainly as a result of the large-scale displacement of workers caused by the economic crisis in East Asia, the ILO expects an additional 10 million workers to be added to the ranks of the unemployed by the end of 1998, inevitably accompanied by a significant increase in poverty and underemployment in the countries directly affected. In sum, the employment situation in the world remains largely grim, and the pressing need to find new ways to overcome barriers to employment poses a common and urgent challenge for countries around the globe.
6. With these persistently high levels of unemployment and underemployment there is mounting concern over the social exclusion that follows from limited employment opportunities. At special risk of exclusion in the current economic environment are the unemployed young people, long-term unemployed, older displaced workers, the less skilled, workers with disabilities and ethnic minority groups -- with women facing higher barriers to employment in all these categories. Of special social concern is the severity of youth unemployment worldwide: the ILO estimates that there are about 60 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who are in search of work but cannot find it.
7. The Asian financial crisis has shown the cost of neglecting social concerns. The pace of globalization has been primarily driven by market forces, and the national, and to some extent international, rules, institutions and practices needed to render its consequences socially acceptable have been insufficiently developed. Even the high-income East Asian countries are ill prepared to cope with their own labour displacement in a socially acceptable manner, since they hardly felt the need to build up the necessary agencies and practices. World trade is likely to continue to rise faster than world output, because of the increased specialization of production systems and because some developing countries will be better placed, not least in the context of regional agreements, to take larger parts of industrialized country markets in particular sectors. Trade growth, and the continuing severe disruption in Asian economies, are intensifying the worldwide need to find socially acceptable responses to the problems posed by enterprise restructuring and labour displacement.
8. Demand for skilled labour has risen significantly as a result of globalization and changes in technology and the organization of work. The three are closely linked: the new information technology, by reducing the cost and increasing the speed of communication, has been a major factor in globalizing production and integrating financial markets; in turn, globalization, by intensifying competition, has spurred technological diffusion and the adoption of new forms of work organization. Increasingly, a country's economic performance depends critically on access to and the adoption of new technology and labour force skills.
The role of education and training in competitiveness
growth and successful adjustment
9. In recent years, coinciding with rapid globalization and the spread of new information and communications technology, human capital development is increasingly viewed as a major engine of economic growth; differences in living standards between countries are primarily attributed to differences in educational levels and the quality of the workforce. More concretely, countries with higher levels of skills have certain basic advantages. They can adjust more effectively to the challenges and opportunities of globalization because their enterprises are more flexible and better able to absorb and adapt new technologies and to work with new equipment. Their structure of output and of exports is weighted more towards higher-quality goods, they can compete more on the basis of quality than of price, and they have less to fear from competition from lower-wage countries. A higher share of skilled workers in the labour force provides better career prospects for workers and raises job quality. Countries with higher levels of vocational training have withstood pressures towards increased wage inequality.
10. Many developing countries and economies in transition, as they open themselves to greater international competition and reliance on market forces, need to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of their enterprises. Industrial restructuring must be supported by the right skills training. In many countries, high levels of tariff protection have in the past provided protection for the low technical competence of their workforce. They now need urgently to initiate action to remove the negative influences on their competitive strength that result from an inadequately trained workforce.
11. In the existing phase of the interface between globalization and the spread of new technologies, new opportunities continuously arise which can be effectively tapped by a country with the right skills and the right products at the right time in the world economy. The result of a wrong decision with respect to a certain new technology or lack of skills in an inward-looking strategy is the higher cost this imposes on the domestic economy. In a global economy the cost is the loss of the enormous economic benefit which could be gained by taking advantage of new emerging niches.
12. In order to assist countries in developing the best possible training strategy to respond to these far-reaching changes, the report suggests that the following seven key elements be taken into account:
13. Training systems are under pressure. As the demand for skills shifts, it is not only "higher" skills but "different" skills that are required to ensure the creation of an employable labour force. Training systems need to react quickly and flexibly. In addition, the growing awareness of the value of lifelong learning, of the needs of the unemployed in developed and transition economies, and of programmes to upgrade the informal sector in developing countries exerts considerable influence on national training systems. Though the report points to the failings of some publicly supported training schemes, reforms need not necessarily weaken the role of the public sector. In fact, in some cases (e.g. recognition of skills, certification, quality control and evaluation) the role of the public sector may need to be strengthened.
14. The pressure on countries to reform their national training systems has given rise to a number of specific measures. In its examination of these various reform processes, the report points to a number of important findings that could provide a basis for countries to develop training systems that respond effectively to the changing demand for skills. These findings highlight the importance of social partnership, co-financing, certification and cost-effectiveness in training systems.
15. Partnership between the employers who are the end-users of the skills, the workers who receive them, and the governments that provide the training framework is of fundamental importance as the basis for training systems. This social partnership will contribute to the relevance of the content and quality of training, to the transparency and safeguarding of standards in the assessment and certification of skills, and to a positive structure of incentives. At the enterprise level, worker/management consultation is essential for training opportunities to be a real factor in a worker's career prospects. Nationally, some overall consultation is essential if policy is to be consistent with other labour market measures and policies. At the intermediate level there is scope for a great deal of diversity in the structure of institutions at the local, occupational and sectoral level. One advantage of the social partnership approach to training policy is that it helps to generate more realistic information on skill needs. Decentralization of decisions on training courses has a similar benefit.
16. The report emphasizes the important need for lifelong training, in which enterprises and organizations redefine themselves as both productive entities and "learning enterprises". The practice of continuing development of skills as part of an internal career path is well entrenched in Japanese and German enterprises. However, these forms of training are strongest in countries where the employer-employee relationship is based on a mutual long-term commitment or where certification is well entrenched. Inter-firm networks are increasingly being used in order to share the cost of training among rival firms in the sector; the ideal result is one in which the costs of training are shared by all producers who stand to profit from the enhanced pool of skilled labour. But such systems are most acceptable when workers' representatives are convinced of the fairness of subsequent wage negotiations.
17. These potential trade-offs highlight the need for the active involvement of employers and workers in bodies determining the training policies of enterprises, as well as their participation in the formation of training policies at the national, regional and local levels. Social partnerships need to be strengthened and developed to ensure the co-determination of training systems by all interested parties, including the government.
18. Public policy increasingly concentrates on encouraging enterprises and individuals to shoulder the major part of training costs by demonstrating the utility of training and encouraging greater competition in the provision of training. But once again a number of possible models can coexist.
19. Training levies, which involve an annual amount being assessed by the government (usually 1 or 2 per cent of the wage bill paid by employers) are in operation in a number of Latin American countries. Other systems, involving levy plus grant, operate in countries as diverse as France, Singapore and Zimbabwe, whereby firms receive tax concessions in respect of training to the extent that they provide the training themselves: in other words, firms that provide no training to their employees pay the full levy (which goes to fund national training efforts) and firms that do provide training can deduct their expenses from their levy liability.
20. Much training is effectively financed by workers themselves in the form of reduced wages during the training period. This helps to overcome a major disincentive for employers to provide training, which can be seen as an investment in an employee over which the employer has no control, and which may well walk out of the door to sell his or her enhanced services to another employer.
21. Individual training provision, whereby people spend their own time and money to acquire new skills via continuing education, night classes, refresher courses, professional schools, etc., is becoming increasingly important as well. A growing body of evidence suggests that adults in France, Germany and the United States who sponsor their own training stand to recoup much of the investment in the form of higher earnings. In some cases these individual efforts at skill enhancement are boosted by fiscal measures; both the United Kingdom and the United States, for example, offer tax rebates for individuals who undertake approved training courses.
22. Increasing importance is being attached in education systems and labour markets to the introduction of recognition systems for skills and competence. Embodied in all considerations of skill certification are the portability and transferability of qualifications. Transferability must apply to all acquired skills, including those derived from training and those added later through work experience.
23. The report stresses the strong need for developing countries to institute systems of certification based on employer-defined competencies for those who have acquired skills through the informal apprenticeship system or on-the-job training. There is unfortunately a common prejudice that equates lack of formal qualifications with ignorance. It is important to recognize that the people concerned have skills, but have achieved them differently, having learnt through on-the-job training while in many cases lacking functional literacy.
24. Quality of performance is becoming a prime consideration in enterprise and national competitiveness. This has several implications for training systems. One is that training providers should pay particular attention to the quality of the training they deliver and ensure that competency standards are achieved. Another is that due regard should be given to quality standards within training programmes, since high quality is expected in the work environment. Quality standards, in the form of performance criteria, are increasingly being defined by governments and private sector organizations which fund training programmes, with contract payments not being made unless the standards are met. Some institutions are seeking to demonstrate the high quality of their training by obtaining certification on the basis of standards set by bodies such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
25. The speed of response of training systems to meet identified needs is a vital element in the maintenance or enhancement of competitiveness. Decentralization of decision-making enables quicker responses to be made and ensures cost-effectiveness in training delivery. The report analyses country experiences in developing quasi-markets in public training programmes through which governments use competitive bidding methods to select training providers for further cost-effectiveness and increased efficiency.
26. The report argues against viewing steps to improve the quality of public-financed training through the development of such market mechanisms as training vouchers as a substitute for developing strong institutions to oversee and shape training policy. Strong institutions can fully benefit from well-functioning markets for training, but at the same time they can provide valuable information to private training providers on the likely future demand for skills, and can act as a strong check on low-quality and fraudulent private providers.
27. The report goes on to consider the changing status and skill development needs of women in the global economy. Globalization and new work technologies and work organization have greatly altered women's labour market status in recent years in ways that both increase their need for skills and present obstacles to their acquiring new skills. Technological changes have led to decreasing demand for low-skilled workers among whom women are overrepresented. A disproportionate number of women are increasingly engaged in the various forms of "non-standard" work (temporary and casual employment, part-time jobs, homeworking, subcontracting, self-employment and work in micro-enterprises). In many developing countries, expanded international trade has led to gains in women's employment in the export manufacturing sector. The trend towards privatization and downsizing of the public sector has had a major negative impact on women workers in many countries where state and local authorities are the largest employers of women in the formal sector. Finally, in Eastern and Central Europe and the former USSR, the transition from centrally planned to market economies has led to a disproportionately large drop in women's jobs.
28. The report notes that while female labour force participation rates are still lower than male rates, women's entrance into workforces around the world is rising rapidly: in the European Union, for example, more than 75 per cent of labour force growth since 1980 is attributable to female workers. Any strategy to build a competitive and highly skilled workforce in today's economy therefore requires careful attention to ensuring the access of women to education and training opportunities.
29. It is essential to address the constraints on women's work and training which arise from their family responsibilities and widespread occupational segregation by gender. By making it easier for women workers to stay in the labour market, access to child-care and family services increases the incentives for women to pursue skills training. Opportunities for lifelong training outside the firm are especially important for women as an avenue to breaking out of the low-skill trap that comes with segregation into low-paid occupations in the labour market with little training opportunities. The report points out that the establishment of nationally recognized skills certification can be especially beneficial in maintaining the value of skills for women who need to move in and out of the labour force because of their family responsibilities.
30. Exclusion from workplace-based training is one of the main forms of discrimination against women in the labour market and one of the most difficult to counter effectively. Women have been shown to be much less likely to receive employer-funded training than men. Anti-discrimination laws, equal opportunity programmes and affirmative action can play an essential role in overcoming practices that exclude women from equal access to training in enterprises and prevent the full use of women's skills. Employment services need to ensure that active labour market policies do not exclude women from training and retraining programmes for the unemployed.
31. Occupational segregation by gender is extensive in every country in the world and is largely predetermined by education and training. The report stresses that career counselling and vocational education programmes need to make a special effort to avoid gender segregation in the initial training of women. In particular, programmes are needed to improve the sensitivity of instructors and counsellors to practices that discourage women and girls from pursuing higher-paid occupations that are traditionally male-dominated.
32. In a number of developing countries there still exists a large gender disparity in basic education. In 1995, more than half the girls aged 6 to 11 in sub-Saharan Africa were estimated not to be in school; in South Asia the figure was more than one-third, and in the Arab States it was more than one-quarter. The report urges efforts to raise school enrolment rates for girls as a key part of a strategy to improve women's access to employment and training and to realize the full potential of the available human resources.
33. In some developing countries, expanding international trade has led to large gains in women's employment in the export manufacturing sector. Efforts need to be made to promote more in-firm training in the growing manufacturing export sectors of many developing countries in which women make up the bulk of the labour force. Generally low levels of productivity in these sectors have thus far limited the quality of employment for women in these jobs.
34. Special attention should be given to improving women's access to training in certain key skills that underlie opportunities for rapid job growth. These include training in information and communication technologies which are the basis for many fast-growing and dynamic industries in which women are underrepresented. Ensuring access to new jobs based on new technologies may prove more important for gender equality than access to traditional male-dominated jobs in declining sectors. Increasing numbers of women are launching their own enterprises; training in financial and business skills for women should be promoted to further encourage the greater involvement of women as entrepreneurs. Finally, better access to in-firm training in management and technical skills is essential to allow women to attain higher-level positions and responsibilities.
35. The report analyses in some detail the role of the informal sector, which accounts for the bulk of employment in urban areas in most developing countries and where the lack of skills and capital is a significant factor in perpetuating low incomes and poverty. In doing so, it seeks to show that the informal sector has the potential for rapid growth, partly through subcontracting arrangements with larger enterprises. The process of skill development in the informal sector in developing countries is all the more important since formal training institutions do not have the capacity to train all those who want to acquire skills, and few of those who want to acquire skills have the means to afford formal training. The report also argues that there is scope for growth within the informal sector, and that this is preferable to merely waiting for successful macroeconomic growth to trickle down from the formal sector.
36. A major shortcoming of earlier training strategies in developing countries has been their exclusive concentration on the needs of the formal sector, despite the fact that it accounts for a considerably smaller proportion of total employment and of new employment opportunities than the informal sector. The first step for training systems in developing countries is therefore to recognize the reality of the informal sector. Training strategies must also recognize the heterogeneity of the informal sector, as training needs differ from one type of work to another.
37. In developing countries, the lack of sufficient job growth in the formal sector of the economy as well as the lack of skills in a large part of the labour force has resulted in the growth of a substantial informal sector. Most workers in this sector are in low-paid employment under unregulated and poor working conditions. The informal sector is a major provider of urban jobs in developing countries. In Africa as a whole, informal employment accounts for over 60 per cent of total urban employment. Among individual countries for which statistics are available, the figures reach 57 per cent in Bolivia and Madagascar, 56 per cent in the United Republic of Tanzania, 53 per cent in Colombia, 48 per cent in Thailand and 46 per cent in Venezuela.
38. The informal apprenticeship system has proved an effective means of skill transmission in the informal sector. Most entrepreneurs in the relatively vibrant micro-enterprise subsector acquire their skills through informal apprenticeships. There is, however, much scope for improvement of this system, as lack of exposure to new techniques and resources often results in the acquisition of a low standard of skills. Support through government extension services to upgrade the skills of master craftsmen and to provide complementary training to apprentices is necessary to improve the quality of skills through apprenticeship.
39. There is a need to link high-school education with apprenticeship training so as to provide young people with an incentive to go to school to acquire the kind of skills needed to earn a living. This would also provide an important means of combating the problem of child labour in developing countries in the long run.
40. Support for the apprenticeship system in micro-enterprises needs to be complemented by advice and information on tools, technology and markets through local initiatives by establishing links with larger firms and encouraging the formation of producers' groups. Such groups would be most appropriate in identifying the training and resource needs of informal enterprises, as well as in undertaking the follow-up and evaluation of training schemes.
41. The productivity and survival of informal sector firms depend on their access to skills and resources and their ties with larger firms and markets through subcontracting arrangements. While the globalization of production has often encouraged subcontracting, it has also increased the volatility of the economic situation within which such enterprises operate, thereby leading to a high failure rate. Furthermore, new developments in global quality standards imply a move towards versatile and standardized production, but lack of resources and lack of access to skills make it difficult for informal enterprises to adapt to these changes. Training can play an important role in imparting much needed technical and managerial skills in the micro-enterprise sector.
42. In the household and service subsectors, where skills and incomes tend to be low, it is necessary to adopt an integrated approach in which training is a vital component of an overall strategy of income generation and poverty alleviation. Training in technical and managerial aspects needs to be closely linked to credit. In activities where skill enhancement by itself is likely to have a marginal impact on productivity, the need is even stronger for access to basic education, credit and training to overcome the low-income trap by ensuring mobility and higher incomes within the informal sector.
43. For the informal sector as a whole, the need to adopt an integrated, holistic approach to upgrading skills and productivity cannot be overemphasized. This is most important, as only the presence of other necessary conditions such as access to credit and institutional support can ensure that "skill enhancement" from training will be productively utilized.
44. An essential complement to a policy to use training and education to enhance growth and competitiveness is the equally important role of training in enhancing employability and in reducing the discrimination in access to employment faced by particular social groups. The stress on employability arises from changes in labour market trends: the increase in job insecurity and job displacement, the growing risk of exclusion from employment for those without appropriate skills, the continuous updating and development of skills, the need to acquire a wider range of competencies. It is therefore now being increasingly stressed that those who have no opportunity to develop their employability will fail in the competitive labour markets in the new economic order. Training and the acquisition of core skills is seen as a major, if not the main, instrument available to individuals to improve their chances in the labour market.
45. Recent changes in the world economy present a paradox: on the one hand, nations facing rapid globalization and competitive pressures have a greater need to invest in the skill development and training of their workforce; on the other hand, these same global forces risk creating the conditions for increased labour market segmentation and exclusion from employment, accompanied by reduced opportunities and incentives for training. For groups of vulnerable workers -- including young people and the long-term unemployed, older displaced workers and workers with disabilities -- there is an increased risk of labour market exclusion as global economic change proceeds. A common problem for these workers is the worsening employment situation of those with low skills as a result of globalization, technological change and changes in work organization. Education and training clearly have a key part to play in a successful mix of policies to address the difficulties faced by vulnerable groups.
46. The report analyses the role and effectiveness of training policies in enhancing the skills and employability of members of vulnerable groups and reviews the support measures needed, including the removal of obstacles that deny equitable access to employment. It examines the relationship of skill development to the segmentation of labour markets, as well as the institutional and market forces that act as a disincentive to training for less secure groups of workers in atypical and non-standard forms of employment. Many of the at-risk young people, long-term unemployed, older displaced workers, persons with disabilities and other vulnerable groups face serious barriers to on-the-job training.
47. Poor growth in many regions of the world has caused severe employment problems for the most vulnerable groups of workers, especially young unemployed people and the long-term unemployed. While skill development is an integral part of a solution to their employment problems, training programmes produce the best results when macroeconomic policy is conducive to employment growth in the economy.
48. A disturbing aspect of the general unemployment situation is the persistently high level of youth unemployment. These levels, especially in the developed economies, are very sensitive to the growth performance of the economy and underline the importance of sustained economic revival. It remains difficult for governments to identify training programmes that will significantly improve and sustain the employment prospects of many unemployed young people. Most of the industrialized countries have undertaken, for the short and medium term, special and targeted training and job programmes to tackle youth unemployment. The report notes that experience so far seems to suggest that, in many cases, the introduction of such programmes tends to ease the problem temporarily rather than to offer a sustainable solution.
49. The report points out that closer targeting of beneficiaries and the careful tailoring of training activities to the specific needs of young unemployed workers are necessary to effectively promote greater post-programme employment opportunities. Experience indicates that unemployed young workers benefit most from initiatives that offer a broad range of mutually supporting programmes; multiple services may include educational support, training, subsidized work, job search assistance and career advice, and counselling to deal with drug, alcohol and family problems. In addition, programmes that include experience and training in regular workplaces are useful in providing the essential first step into the world of work and in overcoming employers' negative attitudes towards youth who lack any work history.
50. In developing economies witnessing either high growth or significant signs of economic revival, the report suggests that schemes that provide young people with a foothold in the labour market through short-term work experience or which offer counselling on job-search skills can be effective in helping young workers find employment.
51. For many of the industrialized countries, especially in Europe, the prevalence of long-term unemployment in the labour market is one of the most persistent and serious social issues. Once they have been unemployed for a long period of time, workers' chances of finding employment progressively decline; their skill level runs the risk of deteriorating and employers are increasingly hesitant to recruit them. Drawing on the experience of different countries in trying to improve the employability and prospects of the long-term unemployed, the report concludes that training programmes that are closely tied to the labour market and relatively small in scale are most effective. A combination of mutually supportive measures have been shown to be much more effective in improving employability for the long-term unemployed than "stand alone" measures. Combined measures include subsidized jobs, job search assistance, remedial education, training, and family or social problem counselling. Training or placement in actual workplaces allows workers to overcome employers' hesitancy towards hiring the long-term unemployed. Small-scale, community-based reintegration enterprises have shown some promise in countering long-term unemployment by providing a range of services to the unemployed while contributing to wider community needs and local economic regeneration.
52. The report examines the labour market experiences of older displaced workers in developed economies and argues that policies are needed to allow for training throughout working life in order to avoid the obsolescence of skills. It presents some of the lessons that have emerged with regard to the retraining of displaced workers and considers measures and incentives that could overcome the under-provision of investment by employers in training for older workers. Governments need to develop policies aimed at avoiding the premature exclusion of many older workers from the labour market. Workers are less likely to face redundancy in later life if they have benefited from access to lifelong learning opportunities through subsidized employer training, training levies that target mature workers, loans to help workers finance investment in their own skill training and the expansion of institutions for skill development outside of the workplace. Job search and counselling programmes have also proved effective for many displaced older workers who possess marketable skills but need assistance in identifying good matches with employers in a changing economy.
53. The report recognizes that the principle of equality of opportunity and treatment of persons with disabilities in training and employment needs to be seen as a human rights issue. Changes in the economy that lower the demand for the low-skilled workers leave many persons with disabilities especially vulnerable to unemployment and exclusion from the labour market. For many of these workers employment prospects are limited by initial barriers to access to a good basic education or vocational training, especially in developing countries. The report points to the successful experience of countries that have committed themselves to fully integrating people with disabilities into mainstream education, training and employment. In addition, special employment schemes like supported employment and sheltered work can be effectively used for the integration in competitive employment of individuals with many types of disabilities. Finally, more efforts are needed to address the training needs of large numbers of civilians and ex-soldiers who are disabled as a result of armed conflict.
54. The report points to the importance of legislation and affirmative action programmes to counter discrimination on the basis of age, ethnic origin and disability; labour market discrimination prevents the successful exploitation of skills and undermines the incentives to undertake training for vulnerable groups of workers.
Geneva, 2 October 1998.