Director-General of the International Labour Organization, Guy Ryder; BWU General Secretary, Senator Toni Moore and Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, in discussion following the opening of the 11th ILO Meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labour at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa today. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

For the Caribbean to be competitive in the global arena, it must be aware of how the world of work is changing. 

This was underscored today by Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, as he addressed the 11th ILO Meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labour at the Accra Beach Resort and Spa, under the theme: Shaping a Brighter Future of Work for the Caribbean.

Stating that it was important to have intimate knowledge of how the world of work is changing, Mr. Jordan said: “There are myriad issues to contend with such as climate change, demographic changes, new and rapidly advancing technology, geopolitical issues affecting our nations and indeed globalization.  Added to those, there are the challenges of high unemployment, especially high youth unemployment, economic instability, crime and natural disasters.”

Noting he was concerned about full and decent employment of the youth, the minister stressed: “We all know the severe consequences of high levels of youth unemployment.  At ‘best’, some young persons may accept non-standard employment or employment in the informal sector where social protection is either very limited or even non-existent, and this is by no means an acceptable ‘best’.  At worst, these disenfranchised young people may resort to deviant behaviours that are harmful not just to themselves, but to others, impacting our country’s security, leading to the breakdown of our communities.”

Regional delegates heard that in 2016 when Barbados undertook its Future of Work Dialogue its considerations included society, culture, flexible forms of work, joblessness, education, health, productivity and competitiveness.

 And, there was also the stark recognition that there were several issues and challenges impacting this island’s ability to meet the demands of a rapidly changing workplace.

The Labour Minister, in emphasizing that today’s world of work was changing faster than before, added that, though the challenges still existed, there were opportunities.  

He noted that issues and challenges had to be faced head on, and with a “laser-like focus on the implementation” of any strategies developed to take this country forward. 

Surmising that the strategies for development and implementation must take an inclusive approach, he said this would call for the involvement of government, and workers and employers’ representatives.

Adding that workers were also important, Mr. Jordan said: “We can appreciate that a brighter future of work has as its nucleus our most important resource, our workers, but if we are to be successful in accomplishing the feat of creating that brighter future, then the implications are much more far reaching….  

“They will impact and benefit not just our workers, businesses but families, communities and ultimately our economies.” The two-day meeting is a collaborative effort between the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean and government.

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