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Is it possible to find decent work in a world without jobs?

Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will lead to jobs losses. But these same technological advances will also create millions of jobs. How do we achieve a more promising future in a world where millions of people are unemployed or work in a way that prevents them from living a decent life?

 

 Masiel Fernández Bolaños

 

Questions like this frequently encourage research to analyse the state of the labour market and urge decision makers to adopt measures that improve the lives of many human beings.

According to the report “World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2018”, the rate of global unemployment reached 5.6%, with the total number of unemployed greater than 192 million.

In 2017, the global increase in salaries fell to its lowest level since 2008, well below the levels preceding the global financial crisis according to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In addition, a global study on Salaries 2018/2019 confirmed that, in real terms (adjusted for inflation), the global increase in salaries has slowed from 2.4% in 2016 to 1.8% in 2017.

One of the most recent studies about the working environment was carried out by the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work.

The Commission called upon governments to commit to adopting a number of measures to address the challenges created by the profound, unprecedented changes that are taking place in the working world.

Similarly, the Commission proposes a vision of a people-centred program which is based on the investment in individuals’ skills, working institutions and decent and sustainable work.

In this sense, it recommends a universal guarantee of employment that would protect the fundamental rights of workers, that would guarantee a salary for a decent way of living, limited hours of work and safe and healthy work places.

It also calls for social protection, guaranteed from birth until old age that meets peoples’ needs throughout their lifetime; a universal right to lifelong learning that allows individuals to acquire new skills and improve their qualifications. There is also a call for technological change to be managed so that it favours decent work including through the international governance of digital work platforms.

The study also refers to the importance of increased investment in rural, green and care economies, of a transformative agenda which favours gender equality and of the restructuring of incentives for businesses to stimulate long term investments.

“There will be countless opportunities to improve the quality of life of workers, to extend the range of options available, to close the gender gap, to reverse the damage caused by inequalities on a global level and many more. However, none of this will happen by itself. Without these strong measures, we will move towards a world with deepening inequality and uncertainty”, the report states.

At the same time, it describes the challenges posed by new technology, climate change and demographic trends and calls for a collective response, on a global scale, to the disruption caused to the working world.

 

Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will lead to job losses in that skilled workers will become obsolete. However, these same technological advances, along with the greening of economies, will also create millions of jobs if these new opportunities are exploited.

This report is the result of a study carried out over 15 months by the 27 members of the Global Commission, made up of figures from the business, working and academic world, focus groups and governmental and non-governmental organisations (all of which are set out in detail on the ILO’s website).

The purpose is to encourage commitment and partnerships within and between nations and regions to ensure that the global economy and societies are more equal, fair and inclusive. At the same time, it seeks to inspire global action to curb and eliminate the challenges that humanity has imposed over the course of history, it states.

The world of work has experienced major changes that create numerous opportunities for more and better jobs. But governments, unions and employers need to work together so that economies and the labour market become more inclusive. This social dialogue could contribute to a globalisation that will benefit everyone, it adds.  (PL)

(Translated by Corrine Harries – Email: corrine.harries@ch-translations.com)

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