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What the future of work means for the youth

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Added 23rd December 2019 05:54 PM

Statistics from ILO show that globally, over 63 million young men and women are looking for jobs.

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Beatrice Mujuni is the communications officer of the Federation of Uganda Employers

Statistics from ILO show that globally, over 63 million young men and women are looking for jobs.


By Beatrice Mujuni

The time is here and now. The disruptive world has caught up with us and is here to stay.

We have to be prepared to survive. With the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at 100 years, its theme The Future of Work comes with a lot of expectation from the labour market.

The big question is, what does this mean for the youth?

In August this year, the Global Youth Employment Forum held in Abuja, Nigeria brought over 200 young people from 65 countries around the world. The forum provided valuable insights for the future of ILO action on youth employment.

Youth unemployment has been a budding crisis all over the world.

Statistics from ILO show that globally, over 63 million young men and women are looking for jobs, about 141 million youth are working yet living in poverty, two in every five youth are jobless and poor.

In this regard, discussions have been going on from as way back as 2008. During the employment crisis, world leaders committed to invest in young people and safeguard their rights to ensure effective transition into decent work. However, there are still a number of factors that have hindered this transition. With reference to the Global Youth Employment Forum report 2019, there is need to;

• Focus more on the demand side of labour markets and to harness the employment potential in emerging sectors.

• Establish economic systems that cater for climate change and migration that are fundamental to youth.

• Accelerate processes to tackle educational reforms that will address skills mismatch with the growing trends of emphasis on digital and soft skills.

• Review labour market regulations of gender balance, informality, renumeration structures, working conditions, access to training, etc.

• Establish long-term, sustainable and quality employment solutions.

• Broaden social dialogue and youth engagement to underpin policy-making. There is also a need to strengthen multi-stakeholder action and co-ordination for scaling up action and impact.

From the above recommendations, it is clear that structural transformation needs to be given key consideration.

The ILO centenary declaration highlights a human-centered approach to the future of work by;

Strengthening the capacities of all people to benefit from the opportunities of a changing world of work, strengthening the institutions of work and promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

As the youth, our place in this is to be informed and proactive.

We must know our rights as workers or young business owners, and actively participate in policy discussions on employment and labour matters. The future of work offers vast opportunities but also significant challenges.

Globalization, technological advancement and demographic change are already having profound impact on society. The irony is that the future of work is actually here, we see the gig economy taking substantial shape, positions in organizations are more fluid with freelance contracts, modern technology has also paved way for decentralized workforce where flexi-hours and remote working have become common, motivation at work now goes beyond a paycheck to more incentivized options, and artificial intelligence is set to replace humans at work.

We, therefore, have to be prepared as youth by being creative, passionate and multi-skilled as we are a huge part of this transformation.

Learning is a never-ending journey. We cannot afford to be left behind. Our future is in our hands, and ultimately, we fashion our own destiny. We all have the opportunity to explore various fields of work and shape our career paths, which is all preceded by an open mind.

I would like to congratulate the ILO and the tripartite partners comprised of workers, employers and the Government for the centenary milestone characterized by immense efforts to uphold quality labour standards all over the world.

Uganda in particular joined the ILO in 1963, and we hope to see continued significant progress at national level in light of decent work and social justice.

Nothing for youth, without youth!

The writer is the communications officer of the Federation of Uganda Employers

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