Second Committee, ECOSOC Discuss Future of Work

UNGA8 November 2013: The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) held a joint debate with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on the future of global employment and work. Participants discussed how future trends in technology and employment will effect development, and the future roles of the public and private sectors.

The joint meeting took place on 8 November 2013, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. Introducing the panel discussion, Committee Chair Abdou Salam Diallo (Senegal) said technological, financial and demographic change will give a different meaning to the idea of work in the future. Martin Sajdik (Austria), Vice-President of ECOSOC, added that the speed of the digital revolution and its impact on employment will be a challenge for many countries.

Panelists discussed expected trends in technology, population, and international financial activities. Raymond Torres, International Labor Organization (ILO), said growing education, fertility declines, and the spread of new technology will expand the middle class in Southern countries. However, he also noted the problem of a "disconnect" between positive social trends and the increasing instability and inequality in work, especially for young people. Paul De Civita and Peter Padbury, Policy Horizons Canada, revealed the current nature of bio- and neuro-technologies, noting that developments in the field are emerging faster than people realized, and in the future will improve productivity while changing the nature of traditional jobs. Barbara Birungi, Women in Technology, said teachers and students in developing countries must be better trained for a more digital future.

On the post-2015 development agenda, Diallo said that the agenda must reflect future employment trends between 2015 and 2030, while providing clear objectives and follow-up implementation. Sajdik said the post-2015 development agenda must be bold, and reflect the connections between jobs, sustainable development and poverty reduction. Gabon's delegate proposed that the new development agenda should address the "youth bulge" through education, training and good jobs.

In an interactive debate, Member States raised the issues of: current unemployment trends; social protection and decent work; gender-sensitive policies in the workforce; and the role of government in the future of work. [UN Press Release] [Joint Debate Summary]