Shri Bhupender Yadav, Minister of Labour and Employment, India with ILO Director-General Gilbert F. Houngbo © Ministry of Labour and Employment India

GENEVA (ILO News) – The ILO Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo, has called on G20 Labour and Employment Ministers to tackle skills gaps, invest in social protection systems for all and embrace sustainable financing mechanisms for employment and social protection policies to close growing fractures in the global labour market and reduce inequalities.

The Ministers’ meeting, which was hosted by India and took place in Indore on 20-21 July, focused on three main topics: addressing the global skills gaps, extending social protection to platform and gig workers, and sustainably financing national social protection systems. Ministers agreed on specific policy priorities to accelerate progress on the first two of these challenges and on a set of policy options regarding the third.

“At present, the global employment divide is deepening in the face of global shocks and risks, with low-income countries being left further and further behind”, said Houngbo to the Ministers.

“To tackle this situation and to promote social justice, more global resources must be mobilized. Initiatives such as the UN Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions play a pivotal role in generating the necessary technical and financial support. Such endeavours need to be part of a broader reform of the international financial architecture to make more resources available for achieving the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals],” the ILO Director-General said.

Talking about the Antalya Youth target of reducing the share of young people who are most at risk of being permanently left behind in the labour market by 15 per cent by 2025, Houngbo told Ministers that the NEET rate (young people aged 15 to 29 who are Not in Employment, Education or Training) was back to or below its pre-pandemic level and that 12 G20 members were on track to achieve the target.

But to make further progress, and to tackle gender inequality in particular, action must focus on promoting more and better employment for the youth by investing in economic sectors with high youth employment potential and improving the quality of employment to provide incentives for labour market participation, underlined the Director-General. Investments in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and quality apprenticeships and combining active labour market policies with income support are also very important to reach the most disadvantaged youth, he added.

Ministers discussed ways to address skills gaps so as to increase productivity and wages, but also the means to decrease workforce turnover and increase firms’ capabilities to innovate or deploy new technologies. “Regions where skills gaps are pervasive are also more likely to experience high unemployment”, said Richard Samans, the ILO’s Sherpa to the G20 and Director of the ILO Research Department. “In a turbulent time, ‘investment in people’ restores the trust in institutions and helps build a new social contract. Therefore, massive investment in skills is needed more than ever, as we face the need to achieve socially just green and digital transitions,” he added.

The ILO called for a common language on skills and qualifications to facilitate cross-country comparability and mutual recognition of skills. The ILO, with the OECD, will launch a feasibility study for a global skills taxonomy that will be available by the end of 2026. The ILO also welcomed the agreed extension of the coverage of the ILO and OECD Skills for Jobs Databases to all G20 countries and beyond. It will improve the availability, granularity, timeliness, and international comparability of data on demand and supply with respect to skills, occupations and qualifications, and will contribute to close skills gaps globally.


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