Shaping technology transitions for the future | Sunday Observer

Shaping technology transitions for the future

ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Simrin Singh presents a copy of the report to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Simrin Singh presents a copy of the report to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Country Office for Sri Lanka and the Maldives has released a milestone report - ‘The Future of Work in Sri Lanka: Shaping technology transitions for a brighter future’.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was the chief guest.

The report by TANDEM Research tries to fill a gap in the debate on the impact of emerging technologies on the world of work in developing countries. Automation and job displacement; employment conditions (with an emphasis on labour welfare and social protection), and labour inequities, are the lens through which the Future of Work in Sri Lanka is examined.

In keeping with the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda and mission of social justice, the recommendations in the report include policy suggestions for education and skilling for future jobs, technology and innovation to harness greater entrepreneurial potential and employment, labour protection to regulate and protect workers in the platform economy, and redistributing gains from technological transitions.

The report also develops ‘propositions’ on how to shape a better future of work for Sri Lanka from the point of view of the vulnerable, with implications to increase women’s labour force participation, to tackle the youth unemployment and underemployment challenge and to care for a rapidly ageing society.

Three vital ‘Bright Spots’ for Sri Lanka – as it faces technological transitions – are highlighted. These are: the care economy, tourism, and green and sustainable business.

“While the impact of technology on the future of work is a global phenomenon, it is critical to reflect on and analyse these changes through a local lens. This report investigates the implications of Sri Lanka’s unique local political, legal and socio-economic structures against an unsettled global backdrop and is a vital contribution to understanding the challenges and opportunities in the world of work for the next two decades,” said Ms. Simrin Singh, ILO Country Director for Sri Lanka and Maldives.

“Many young people in Sri Lanka will not be interested in manual jobs but will not have the education and skills for the advanced jobs. The social and political consequences of a large pool of young people who can’t find jobs that meet their aspirations could be challenging. Skilling and constant re-skilling need to be the most critical priority. Vocational skilling will not be enough – a focus on foundation education is critical for ensuring aptitude for life-long learning,” said lead author Dr. Vikrom Mathur of TANDEM Research. He was speaking about the changing world of work in Sri Lanka and its implications for the next generation.

This landmark report in the ILO’s centenary year is a result of multiple consultations with the ILO in Sri Lanka’s tripartite constituents, youth, platform workers, entrepreneurs, exporters, academics and development practitioners. It provides the basis for anticipatory policy frameworks and to spur social dialogue to ensure that no one will be left behind in the world of work in Sri Lanka. 

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