The EU, decent work and the future of work
The EU has supported the promotion of the Decent Work Agenda for many years, in both its internal and external policies.
Regarding EU external policies, the EU has progressively integrated the Decent Work Agenda in the different external policies and actions such as the external dimension of EU employment and social policies, development cooperation, external assistance, external trade and investment.
Moreover, the EU supports financially, the G7 Vision Zero Fund. This multi-donor trust fund managed by the ILO - with an initial priority focus on the textile and garment sector - aims at reducing and preventing the number of work-related fatalities and accidents and occupational diseases in selected developing countries. The EU hopes that other emerging economies and business will financially contribute to the Vision Zero Fund. This could also be very relevant for South Korea.
We also have an EU facility – called SOCIEUX PLUS - which provides EU and international technical assistance at request of partner countries (e.g. South Korea) on social security, employment and labour. Also social partners can apply.
Regarding EU internal policy, because EU stakeholders and citizens are increasingly attentive to fairness and social justice in globalisation, this year the European Commission presented a reflection paper on "Harnessing Globalisation", with a number of suggestions on how EU policies and actions can strengthen further their contribute to decent work in the world as part of the wider UN sustainable development goals.
Internally, the "European Pillar of Social Rights" also deserves a special mention. The Pillar responds to concerns regarding the impact of digitization, automation, new work arrangements, and the gap between these realities and the social protection systems, also in view of population ageing. The Pillar and its accompanying initiatives, together with other European actions and new reflections, will respond to the social partners` call for comprehensive strategies addressing the impact of globalisation, digitalization and other trends on employment, skills and education.
One if the problems is that while social protection has traditionally been geared towards standard employment relations, with the rise in non-standard employment, there are also rise in the number of people who run the risk of finding themselves in more insecure and precarious situations regarding access to social protection schemes.
In Europe, digitalisation is having a massive impact on the labour market and the type of skills needed in the economy and society. New forms of employment are emerging, for example in the platform-driven part of the economy, but also in traditional sectors such as construction and transport.
Nevertheless, digitalisation is also a huge opportunity for improvement of job quality, higher productivity and better social security. Governments, business, social partners and individuals have a shared responsibility to make the digital economy a sustainable one building on decent work and respect for human dignity. One of the key tasks ahead of us is to ensure that our workforce can adapt to these changes.
The `New Skills Agenda for Europe` that we have launched a year ago does exactly this. To date, some 50 organisations have made pledges to take action on reducing the digital skills gaps.