Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF) says investment in social insurance was key to achieving a stronger global economy.
Lagarde said this during a special forum organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as part of the ongoing centenary celebration at the 108th Session of the International Labour Conference (ILC) on Tuesday in Geneva, Switzerland.
The forum was organised to discuss how digitalisation, demographic shifts, climate change and globalisation would affect the way people manage transitions during the course of their lives.
She said that societies across the world must begin by strengthening social programmes.
According to her, social investment includes social insurance and social assistance, as well as public spending on health and education.
“Social spending is not just an expense, but rather can be among the wisest of investments in the well-being of our societies.
“Expansion of access to education and health generates broader productivity across the population, allowing all citizens to flourish.
“To reap the rewards of a stronger global economy, societies must begin by strengthening social programmes today.
“I would argue that social spending is a core component of the social contract needed to fulfil the missions of our respective institutions,“ she said.
Mr Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said that 55 per cent of the world’s population was still not covered by social protection.
He said that the global commitment to social protection was a prerequisite to securing sustainable transitions over the life course.
Also, Mr Luca Visentini, General Secretary, European Trade Union Confederation, said it was essential that workers, including those in the gig economy, had access to lifelong learning.
“This is having real access to universal social protection systems that can protect them from shocks, but at the same time can also make transitions smoother,“ he said.
He, however, added that all these would not work if there was not a clear strategy in place for quality job creation.
Mr Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on world leaders to put in place measures that would mitigate the impact of unemployment and create access to education and other social investment programmes.
“By mitigating the negative impact of unemployment, creating access to further education, improving labour market opportunities, and securing access to at least the core contents of the right to health, food, water and sanitation.
“Others are education, housing, social security systems, you can ensure that individuals in all of society are protected from the worst impact of upheavals,” he said.
Also, UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, Joannie Bewa, called for inclusive policies that build not only the needs of the most vulnerable, but also hear the voices and needs of young people.
Secretary-General of the Ibero American Conference, who was a member of the Global Commission on the Future of Work, Rebeca Grynspan, said that there was need to “protect workers, not jobs.
“We need universal social protection and we need a new right in terms of lifelong training, because you will have to change your job many times during your labour life,” she said.