A shifting global workforce V2- Blog

Responses to a shifting global workforce

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By Heather Browett

As we’ve been supporting corporate partners and NGOs on approaches to dignified work, one thing has struck us – the trajectory of trends which will shape the future global workforce. The sheer scale and scope of these forces mean leadership on inclusive training and improving equitable supply chain practice are prudent investments. A quick look at what’s driving it:

1. Automation of low skilled jobs: Up to 85% of jobs in developing countries could be at risk of automation within the next 20 years. Job losses to automation are likely to displace the lowest skilled and most disadvantaged workers. Supporting training to diversify the skills of workers can minimise unemployment through the transition.

2. Increasing number of homeworkers: It is estimated there are over 300 million homeworkers in developing countries are commonly lacking job security, fair pay and conditions. Transparency is marred as homeworkers can extend sourcing into second and third tiers, yet homeworkers remain ‘invisible’ to the system. Shifting sourcing to salaried employment will support homeworkers to be recognised and encourage fair remuneration and conditions for all in the supply chain.

3. Improvements in employee rights prompts movement towards the lowest cost labour: Improvement in minimum wage and conditions can move production to countries with a lower cost of labour (eg. Africa). We can see the commitment to minimum wage tested globally – whilelow minimum wage requirements increase competitiveness of acountry, they can keep low income workers in poverty. Upskilling existing workers and assessing conditions of new sourcing countries can mitigate.

4. Gender inequality remains in the labour market, most strikingly in emerging counties: Globally, unemployment rates, salaries and conditions are poorer for women, particularly so in emerging, middle-income countries. Creating inclusive policies and supporting women’srepresentation and rights at work is critical.

5. High levels of migration to urban areas: Increasing and rapid migration to urban areas continues to place pressure on infrastructure, services and job creation, particularly in developing countries in the Global South. High levels of competition for fewer salaried jobs is likely to cause higher unemployment and a shift to low-paid homeworker roles. Thinking about the additional pressure on services can offer aleadership opportunity for Corporates on health and wellbeing programmes.
Building a resilient and equitable global workforce is challenging, but as the shape and pace of change accelerates – the opportunity to influence the global workforce has never been greater.

How do you see the global workforce shifting? Share your thoughts with us.

Heather works to create sustainable environmental and social change. She has a particular interest in community-led environmental management, and has experience working with Australian Indigenous communities.