Recently, I overheard two young women discussing where to look for employment after university. “I think I’m going to go either with Google or Apple,” one said. That’s a far different vision than we had back in the Seventies, when choices were much more service and people oriented than digital.
A recent report by the International Labor Organization (ILO) recognizes vertical changes and exceptional challenges in the employment world. The report, released in January, is entitled, “Work for a Brighter Future.” It addresses some of the fears that many discuss around dinner tables and coffee shops—that everything is becoming commodified and profit seems to trump other concerns; that some workers may not be upskilling quickly enough to prepare for job transformations; that automation and digitalization will result in significant job losses or unfamiliar, new types of work.
The report proposes a human-centered agenda, which places people and the work they do at the center of economic and social policy and business practices. There are three pillars to the agenda:
- Increasing investments in people’s capabilities
- Increasing investment in the institution of work
- Increasing investment in decent and sustainable work
“Our aspiration has been for the report to portray the urgency of the changes that the world of work is facing and to provide ideas on how to manage and leverage these transformations,” comment Cyril Rampahosa, President of South Africa, and Stefan Lofven, Prime Minister of Sweden. The leaders served as Co-Chairs of the ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work, which prepared the report.
“Our hope now is that this report will inspire further discussions on a full range of issues – including, for example, how to strengthen democratic space for social dialogue and how business models can be better aligned with a human-centred agenda,” the Co-Chairs said.
The changes occurring in our places of work impact the Vincentian Family. How can we assist those who have not kept up with job skills needed due to technological advances, artificial intelligence, and robotics? How are we readying people for a green economy which scales back on carbon and resource-intensive industries? In our programs to empower people for employment, how are we adapting to ensure persons we serve are ready for newly-created forms of work? Are we adapting our school curriculum to ensure youth are ready for a “Jetson’s” era of work? In areas of aging populations, are we adapting to pressures on the labor market and social security systems?