ILO Employment Policy Department Director's Welcoming Speech at the STRENGTHEN Global Knowledge-Sharing Workshop

The following are highlights of the speech delivered by ILO Employment Policy Department Director Sangheon Lee during the Global Knowledge-Sharing Workshop.

Article | 15 May 2019
• The STRENGTHEN project, whose full title is “Strengthening the Impact on Employment of Sectoral and Trade Policies”, is a joint initiative of the EU and the ILO.

• It aims to strengthen the capabilities of country partners to analyse and design sectoral and trade policies and programmes so that they contribute to the creation of more and better jobs.

• It consists of two components:
-The first component focuses on Sector Policies and supports and builds capacity among partner countries and development practitioners to enhance the positive impact of sector policies and programmes on employment.
-The second component focuses on Trade Policies and assists developing countries in harnessing international trade to provide better employment opportunities for workers in terms of productivity, wages, working conditions and decent work in short.

• The STRENGTHEN project is a global project with actions at the global level and in nine countries:
1. Benin
2. Cote d’Ivoire
3. Ghana
4. Guatemala
5. Honduras
6. Morocco
7. Myanmar
8. Philippines
9. Rwanda

• The STRENGTHEN project’s work on creating coherence between trade policies and national employment objectives stems from an important part of the ILO’s mandate. On the 10th of June 2008, the International Labour Organization unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization. This Declaration, which was a formal and authoritative statement of the ILO’s principles and values, affirms that “as trade and financial market policy both affect employment, it is the ILO’s role to evaluate those employment effects to achieve its aim of placing employment at the heart of economic policies”.

• More recently, on the 22nd of January this year, the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work launched its landmark report called “Work for a Brighter Future”. This report proposes a “human-centred growth and development agenda” and notes that this agenda depends heavily on the coherence among trade, financial, economic and social policies.

• In the 9 countries where the STRENGTHEN project operates, the project has supported country partners to address the challenge of creating jobs and increasing worker productivity within sectors, while also encouraging shifts of labour demand from low- to high-productivity sectors. This has required efforts to enhance the understanding of how a country’s trade and sectoral policies can generate more and better jobs for all in the country’s labour force, especially those from disadvantaged groups. In other words, the STRENGTHEN project has assisted countries in analysing and designing trade and sectoral policies that take explicit account of employment quantity, quality and access as they relate to sectoral labour demand and supply dynamics.

• To deliver on its objectives, the STRENGTHEN project has worked on four fronts:
1. Knowledge generation through studies and impact assessments
2. Capacity building of project partners
3. Multi-stakeholder policy dialogue
4. Formulation of sectoral and trade interventions for employment creation and upgrading

• Key benefits of the STRENGTHEN project :
-Awareness and mainstreaming of employment objectives into sectoral and trade policies
-Development of tools and methodologies to quantify/ assess employment impacts, as well as to monitor and assess
-Capacity building of partners to use these tools
-Broadening of social dialogue to include additional partners: other ministries (finance, infrastructure, trade, housing, agriculture), export development agencies, investment promotion agencies

Acknowledgements and thanks:
• EU for financial support and collaboration
• Nine partner countries for their active participation and collaboration
• National coordinators/ ILO country staff for implementation