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Need a just transition of int’l labour market

Md Taherul Islam
06 Jun 2023 18:09:34 | Update: 06 Jun 2023 18:09:34
Need a just transition of int’l labour market
File photo shows Bangladeshi migrant workers queueing to enter Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka — Shamsul Haque Ripon

The global labour market is undergoing a transitional period posed by climate change adaptation reality and technological transformation. We are hoping to see this transition as “just.”

Climate change and technological transformation both are evident and impossible to negate. These two realities are rapidly changing our work procedures and thoughts at work.

The changes coming up or already happening due to climate change and technological paradigm shifts should not jeopardise the lives of our workforce. This should not leave behind a group of people vulnerable at work. Hence, how can we adapt to these changes?

To minimise the adverse consequences of climate change, we must go for low-carbon emission technology, green manufacturing process, or cleaner technology. We have no logic to oppose it. We have no choice but to support the green economy.

However, the point is to make everyone aware of the subsequent changes in labour phenomena – the same as the rapid technological transformation caused by the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).

Most experts agree that the global economy is entering into 4IR – the most recent transformative shift in the way that we create and transfer services, goods, and information among buyers and sellers.

4IR is creating new economic paradigms. Undoubtedly, our future jobs will look quite different from those we know today. We cannot even predict the direction or scope of such an obvious transformation.

We can take some lessons from the previous industrial revolutions and understand shifting labour markets, help our workforce adapt, and set a policy agenda for a future of work that is productive and rewarding for our people.

In this context, experts urge us to formulate or redesign our policy frameworks focusing predominantly on “people’s well-being.” This means people-centric policies and programmes.

People must be placed at the centre of designing or redesigning policies and programmes at work.

For this, on the one hand, policymakers and the government must enhance their capacity to understand and monitor these shifts in skill demand. At a basic level, policymakers need to have better and more reliable data to strengthen their understanding.

They need to mine data from various sources to anticipate future trends in the local, national, and global labour markets and gaps in the workforce's skills, knowledge, and training.

Policymakers must work with academia, trade unions, civil society organisations, and private sector actors to explore new partnerships and foster a skill training ecosystem responsive to the needs of a rapidly transforming labour market caused by climate change and 4IR.

On the other hand, policymakers and the government must adjust to protect the most vulnerable segment of the workforce, particularly those who are aged or traditional skill-oriented, or somehow unable to adapt to the transformation.

Policymakers must bring that cohort of people under various social security schemes by doing policy adjustments. We cannot leave anyone behind.

These transformations in the global economy always create new avenues or opportunities. Our government will have to be proactive and smart to grab these opportunities through concerted policy support.

And concerted policy support requires productive coordination among ministries and agencies, as well as between public and private sectors. This must be done by reducing bureaucratic silos among ministries and agencies.

The writer is a development professional. He can be reached at: [email protected]