Countries: Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Syria, Turkey, USA, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Yemen
Topic A: Creating a comprehensive policy plan for Target 8.7 of Agenda 2030
Created in 2015, Target 8.7 is one of the 169 targets that form part of Agenda 2030: “Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.” Whilst all 193 UN members worked on Agenda 2030, a special coalition of 8 countries and 144 organizations has been made which will focus specifically on 8.7. The thought process behind this alliance was that although individual steps have already been made towards achieving the target, meeting the target by 2030 would only be possible through a combined effort. That being said, the coalition is quite young, and the past few years have focussed mainly on establishing itself and starting the necessary work. The next step would be to develop the plan for the next few years and identify how the alliance will provide effective support for efforts to meet the Target, and this is exactly what the committee should be aiming to achieve by the end of the conference.
Topic B: The potential of technology in addressing labour force gaps
Low-skilled workers are often claimed to be those most harmed by technological developments, as automated advancements regularly replace workers undertaking repetitive tasks. Many governments use the same rhetoric to justify protectionist measure so that such industry demographics are not ‘lost’. They are most prevalent in manufacturing, accommodation and food service, and retail trade, and include some middle-skill jobs – in these sectors unemployment is rife. However, at the same time employment opportunities are on the surge for workers skilled and educated in IT and engineering related disciplines. Technology is benefiting those with greater analytical, problem solving and creative skills and countries with educational projects stressing careers with these skills benefit economically. The anticipated shift in the activities in the labor force is of a similar order of magnitude as the long-term shift away from agriculture and net decrease in manufacturing share of employment (in countries such as the United States), both of which were accompanied by the creation of new types of work not foreseen at the time. Policymakers should embrace the opportunity for their economies to benefit from the productivity growth potential and put in place policies to encourage investment and market incentives to foster continued progress and innovation. At the same time, they must evolve and innovate adaptive policies that help workers and institutions. This will likely include rethinking education and training, income support and safety nets, as well as transition support for those dislocated. The ILO as an organisation that brings together governments and the labour market plays and will continue to play an important role in their transition into the new age of automation, and the protection of workers rights as throughout these changes.