Future of work

Remarks by ILO Director-General Guy Ryder at the launch of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work

“It is fundamentally important that we confront these challenges from the conviction that the future of work is not decided for us in advance. It is a future that we must make according to the values and the preferences that we choose as societies and through the policies that we design and implement,” said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

بيان | ٢١ أغسطس, ٢٠١٧
Excellency Mme Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius,
Excellency Mr Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden,
Ambassadors, Representatives of employers and workers,
Representatives of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is truly a very important day for the ILO and we are delighted that you have come to share it with us.

Today we launch the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work, and we do so in the presence of our two distinguished guests – President Gurib-Fakim and Prime Minister Löfven who have agreed to be the co-chairs of our Commission.

We are honoured by their acceptance and I must say that we consider ourselves very fortunate to have their leadership – thanks to both of you.

Now before I give the floor to the co-chairs, let me give you all some context to the work of the Commission.

As I think you all know, the ILO will mark its centenary in 2019. An historic moment indeed. But we are convinced that we should use it not so much to look back at what has been done over the last 100 years but rather to look at what will need to be done in the future.

This seems all the more important because the world of work is undergoing transformative change under the impulse of technological innovation, demographics, climate change, and globalization; and this is change which is unprecedented in its scale, in its speed, and in its depth.

And this change is generating great uncertainty and is leading people to question the capacity of our existing institutions, our policies, to provide them with the future they want.

It is fundamentally important that we confront these challenges from the conviction that the future of work is not decided for us in advance. It is a future that we must make according to the values and the preferences that we choose as societies and through the policies that we design and implement.

And that is precisely where this Commission on the Future of Work comes in: to identify the key world of work challenges of our time and what we must do to meet them.

The fact that this is an ILO Commission matters for two reasons.

In the first place, it means that it will be guided by the objectives of our Organization. The vocation of the ILO is to advance social justice as the guarantee of lasting peace. So what will it take to ensure that transformative change at work brings greater social justice and decent work for all?

And the second reason why the ILO character of this Initiative matters is that we are determined that the work and output of the Commission should feed into and give strong guidance to the ILO as it enters its second century.


Well already, since I proposed this Future of Work Centenary Initiative, we have invited our member States to undertake national future of work dialogues, involving governments, and workers’ and employers’ organizations. More than 110 of our member States have already done so and the results of those dialogues will be an important input to the work of the Commission. These national dialogues have been structured around four “centenary conversations” which seem to have provided a helpful framework for considering the key issues before us. They were on:
  1. Work and Society: A reminder that work has a crucial social function beyond just meeting material needs.
  2. Decent Jobs for All: Addressing the most frequently asked question: Where will the jobs of the future come from – particularly for young people?
  3. The Organization of Work and Production: To tackle issues of the emerging platform economy, global supply chains and the nature of the enterprises of the future.
  4. The Governance of Work: To identify the rules, processes, and institutions we will need in the future to make work decent and societies just.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

the Commission which we launch today and which will work through until the end of next year will need to tackle these issues and I am sure many others as well. And in doing so, they will be touching on many of the key issues of our time, issues which are highlighted day after day in the media, issues which increasingly occupy the political life of our member States, issues which define the hopes, and sometimes the fears, of families across the world.

The Commission will produce a report which will be submitted to the ILO Centenary Conference here in Geneva in June 2019, which will be the centrepiece of our activities in that year, and it will be for that Conference to decide how its outputs and recommendations are to be acted upon.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You have before you the membership of the Commission. They are outstanding individuals, eminently equipped to contribute to its work under the leadership of our co-chairs. The membership reflects a balance of geographical regions, and of different disciplines. There is gender balance, and there is representation of workers and employers in keeping with the tripartite nature of the ILO.

And their involvement certainly gives us cause for optimism as we embark on the Commission’s work.

I look forward later on in the proceedings to hearing your thoughts and questions. But now it is time to hear from our co-chairs.

I will first offer the floor to President Gurib-Fakim and then to Prime Minister Löfven.

Madam President you have the floor.