The Philippines has to take decisive action to prepare for the challenges that new forces-technology, climate change and demography-are bringing to the world of work, according to the head of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Philippine office.
Khalid Hassan, director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines, said technological developments, climate change, and demographic shifts are transforming the future of work, and the nation must take steps to “seize the moment to unlock the opportunities” that come with these unprecedented transformative forces.
Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will lead to job losses, as skills become obsolete. For instance, technological developments are forecast to put 56% of jobs in ASEAN-5 at high risk of automation over the next 20 years, said Hassan.
However, these same technological advances, along with the greening of economies will also create millions of jobs, if new opportunities are seized.
Moreover, the Philippines has to resolve the deficits that persist in the world of work, Hassan said, speaking at a recent conference in Manila on the future of work.
There is a need to create 9.5 million jobs in the Philippines by 2030 to match the labor force growth, he continued. Currently 1.1 million people in the Philippines are unemployed, of whom 48% are youth; 13.7 million Filipino workers are employed in vulnerable employment; and 1.6 million workers in the country earn too little to escape poverty.
He also noted that in the Philippines, 270 people die each year from work-related accidents, while over 109,700 days are lost due to cases of occupational injury.
There is also rising economic inequality.
Hassan said the answer is for policymakers to draw up “a human-centered agenda,” a vision outlined in the ILO Global Commission Report on the Future of Work released in January this year and contained in the ILO Centenary Declaration for the Future of Work adopted on June 21, 2019.
A human-centered agenda is one based on increasing investments in people’s capabilities, in institutions of work, and in decent and sustainable work.
The capacity of Filipinos to benefit from the opportunities of a changing world of work should be strengthened. To achieve this, Hassan said the ILO report recommends gender equality in opportunities and treatment; effective lifelong learning and quality education for all; universal access to comprehensive and sustainable social protection; and effective measures to support people through the increasing transitions they will face throughout their working lives.
To strengthen the institutions of work, the report suggests adequate protection for all workers, taking into account respect for fundamental rights; an adequate minimum wage; maximum limits on working time; and safety and health at work.
To promote decent work, recommendations include trade, industrial and sectoral policies that promote decent work and enhance productivity; and investment in infrastructure and strategic sectors to address the drivers of transformative change in the world of work.
Also called for are policies and incentives that promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth; the creation and development of sustainable enterprises; innovation; and the transition from the informal to the formal economy.
Others are policies and measures that ensure appropriate privacy and personal data protection, and respond to challenges and opportunities in the world of work relating to the digital transformation of work, including platform work.
“Countless opportunities lie ahead to improve the quality of working lives, expand choice, close the gender gap, reverse the damages wreaked by global inequality. Yet none of this will happen by itself. Without decisive action we will be sleepwalking into a world that widens existing inequalities and uncertainties,” the report stressed.