Bimbola Oyesola, Geneva, Switzerland
Over 70 million people have been displaced globally by war, violence, and sometimes by the combination of poverty or climate change, the United Nations (UN) has said.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, speaking at the ongoing 108th session of the International Labour Conference (ILC), which coincides with the Centenary celebration of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Geneva, said as a result of being displaced, this category of people are fundamentally and often excluded from the transformation benefit enjoyed by others in the world of work.
Grandi, who was speaking at a Thematic Forum held during the ongoing Conference, said: “Eighty five per cent of refugees who are displaced – stateless people – are in poor and middle income countries. Most of their access to work is informal.
“Their exclusion is multiple and has a lot of impact on their ability to work. They have no documentation, and often no freedom of movement. They are excluded from financial services and the digital gap is particularly big, and education is a remote opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Labour experts who spoke at the special forum, said advances in technology such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics would create new jobs.
But they added that workers should adjust to the challenges created in the world of work, to be able to cope with the new trend.
Speakers at the thematic forum discussed how to manage the way digital technologies are transforming the world of work, so that they lead to the creation of decent work.
The debate was held at the ILO Centenary Conference.; and the participants were made up of representatives of workers, employers, governments, the private sector and international organizations.
According to them, such challenges have made it necessary for workers to continually “re-skill and up-skill” over the life course.
The Deputy Director-General for Field Operations and Partnerships of the ILO, Moussa Oumarou, who set the stage for the discussion stressed the need to urgently tackle the mounting challenges in the world of work.
He said: “Advances in technology – artificial intelligence, automation and robotics – are all going to create new jobs. But some people will have to adapt, and it’s up to us to work collectively to ensure that the social safety net enables them to manage this transition successfully.
“Skills are part of the picture. Today’s skills will not match the jobs of tomorrow, and recently acquired know-how risks being quickly outdated.”
Also, the Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Jose Angel Gurría Trevino, stated that the forces of digitalisation, globalisation and demographic change would provide great potential to improve lives; adding that four out of 10 jobs created in OECD countries now are in digital-intensive sectors.
He stated: “But at the same time, 14 per cent of the workforce today is highly exposed to being displaced by technology, an additional 32 per cent being disrupted by technology. So about half the workforce altogether is impacted by technology; about half the workforce is not prepared for operating in highly technological work environments.”