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Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations
The ILO is the United Nations agency for the world of work. It was founded on the conviction that universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based on social justice.
The ILO brings together governments, employers, and workers from its 187 member states in a human-centred approach to the future of work based on decent employment creation, rights at work, social protection, and social dialogue.
The ILO’s tripartite membership drafts, adopts, and monitors the implementation of international labour standards on key world of work issues – ILO Conventions and Recommendations.
The ILO undertakes research and data collection across the range of world of work topics. It publishes flagship reports and a wide range of publications and working papers. Its globally renowned set of statistical databases is maintained and updated with nationally sourced labour market data.
The ILO manages a wide range of development cooperation projects in all regions of the world. Realised in partnership with donor countries and organisations, these projects aim to create the conditions for delivery of the ILO’s decent work agenda.
Three initiatives are central to the ILO’s current work: the establishment of a global coalition to promote social justice, advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions, and its four priority action programmes. The latter focuses on the transition from the informal to the formal economy, just transitions towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies, decent work in supply chains, and decent work in crises and post-crisis situations.
As the ILO covers the full scope of the world of work, digital issues are present across the organisation’s work. The ILO addresses digitalisation through a wide range of topics including digital labour platforms, digital skills knowledge, employability, artificial intelligence (AI), automation and data governance – and more broadly, the future of work. The ILO also tracks the effects of digitalisation on specific work sectors, for instance, the postal and telecommunication services sector.
Digital policy issues
Automation and artificial intelligence
The ILO is paying close attention to how automation and AI are changing the labour markets and the ways we work. We have examined the impacts of automation in many publications, for instance, Robotics and Reshoring, Automation and its Employment Effects: A Literature Review of Automotive and Garment Sectors, and the research brief, Who Moves and Who Stays? A number of recent studies have focused on the labour impacts of generative AI and the growing use of AI in specific sectors. Examples include the working papers, Generative AI and Jobs: A Global Analysis of Potential Effects on Job Quantity and Quality and Artificial Intelligence in Human Resource Management: A Challenge for the Human-centred Agenda? AI has been the topic of recent editions of the ILO’s Future of Work Podcast series.
Access to data
The ILO has long been a leading resource for policymakers, researchers, and other users of data on the labour markets and all aspects of the world of work. ILOSTAT (a portal to its comprehensive labour statistics) and the ILO Knowledge Portal (offering access to country information and data on labour laws, standards, policies, and statistics) make real-time data available to users around the world. The World Employment and Social Outlook Data Finder provides customised datasets on request for measures such as the global labour force, unemployment, and employment by sector. The ILO also has a Development Cooperation Dashboard with data on labour-related policy areas and on the organisation’s field projects, funding, and expenditures. All materials published by the ILO are collected and freely available in Labordoc, the organisation’s digital repository. The ILO’s new Research Repository allows users to easily access our knowledge products by topic and author.
Future of work
The future of work has been a key unifying digital issue in the ILO’s activities for many years. In 2015, the ILO Director-General presented a report to the International Labour Conference that proposed a special initiative on the future of work. Since that time, much of the research the ILO has undertaken and many of the reports we have published have fallen under this rubric. In 2019, the ILO established the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work as part of our Future of Work Initiative. The Commission was composed of representatives from government, civil society, academia, and business and worker representatives.
The Commission published a landmark report, Work for a Brighter Future, that called for a human-centred agenda for the future of work and explored the impacts of technological progress in the fields of AI and robotics and on issues such as the gender labour gap and the automation of work. That same year, the ILO issued the ILO Centenary Declaration, which advocated ‘full and productive employment and decent work’ in the context of the digital transformation of work, including platform work. Examining the future of work in its myriad implications remains a primary focus for the organisation to this day.
The ILO is playing a pivotal role in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, most specifically specifically sustainable development goal (SDG) 8 (decent work and economic growth). The ILO is one of the main actors supporting the Global Accelerator on Jobs and Social Protection for Just Transitions initiative, the UN system’s collective response for addressing the multiple challenges that threaten to erase development progress. The Global Accelerator aims to direct investments to help create at least 400 million decent jobs, primarily in the green, digital, and care economies, and to extend social protection coverage to the over 4 billion people currently excluded. The ILO has also created the Decent Work for Sustainable Development (DW4SD) Resource Platform, which maps the interplay between sustainable development and decent work. The platform provides guidance and working resources to ILO staff, development partners, UN country teams, and other stakeholders. A recent ILO report, Transformative Change and SDG 8, outlines an integrated policy approach that countries can follow to achieve SDG 8.
Capacity development is another digital-related issue at the core of the ILO’s activities. As part of our skills, knowledge, and employability initiatives, the ILO helps governments develop education and training systems to take advantage of new educational technologies and give greater attention to digital skills. We support enterprises and employers to make investments to expand education and training programmes, and workers to proactively upgrade their skills or acquire new ones.
Examples of many resources the ILO has produced are Digital Employment Diagnostic Guidelines, Digitalization of National TVET and Skills Systems and Digitalise Your Business: Digital Strategies for Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. These and many more resources are available from the ILO’s Skills and Lifelong Learning knowledge-sharing platform.
Together with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ILO developed the SKILL-UP programme, which assists developing countries in building capacity and improving their digital skills systems, as well as the Skills Innovation Facility. The Facility focuses on identifying and testing innovative ideas and solutions to address current and future skills challenges. In addition, the ILO’s Skills Innovation Network provides a platform for innovators to collaborate and share experiences on developing innovations for skills development.
Privacy and data protection
In regard to privacy and data protection, the ILO has published a set of principles on the protection of workers’ personal data, which explores trends, principles, and good practices related to the protection of personal data.
The International Training Centre, established by the ILO, provides online courses on a variety of labour issues. The ILO also organises webinars and uses a number of social media accounts. The following digital tools are also available:
- ILOSTAT (portal to labour statistics)
- ILO Knowledge Portal
- ILO Development Cooperation Dashboard
- World Employment and Social Outlook Data Finder
- Research Repository
Information on conferences and events is available on the ILO events page.
Digital labour platforms and telework
A key focus of ILO research is the effects of digitalisation on labour market evolution and new forms of work. The organisation has been closely tracking the implications of digital labour platforms digital and remote work (e.g. teleworking). The ILO has published some essential references on these new subjects including the World Employment and Social Outlook report on digital labour platforms and the report, Working from Home, published during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most other ILO studies also reflect digital issues. For example, recent Global Employment Trends for Youth reports cover inequalities in youth labour markets arising from digital transformation, as well as investment in young people’s skills,