International Labour Organization (ILO)


The International Labour Organization (ILO) is devoted to promoting social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights, pursuing its founding mission that social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace.

Only tripartite U.N. agency, the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers representatives of 187 member States , to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men.

Description of Activities on AI

Project 1: From industrial robots to deep learning robots: the impact on jobs and employment

The study investigates empirically the rise of reprogrammable industrial robots in developing countries and how they affected manufacturing employment during the past two decades. Secondly, it explores patent data in the two areas of robotics and artificial intelligence, and analyses this data at the levels of countries, sectors and enterprises so as to better understand the future impact of AI robots on jobs and employment.

Project 2: The economics of Artificial Intelligence (AI): Implications for the future of work

The study explores the economics of AI and how it relates to the labor market. It discusses the rationale for the fears of job loss as a result of AI advancements and calls for a moderately optimistic outlook on the opportunities and risks from artificial intelligence, provided policy-makers and social partners take the particular characteristics of these new technologies into account.

Project 3: Policy responses to the distributional consequences of AI

The study paper addresses digital dystopias and the rise in digital inequality. It suggests that the answer lies in treating data as a commons and Big Data as a collective-action problem.

Project 4: Skills and strategies for future labor markets

This project aims to help ILO constituents to develop forward looking strategies to more readily adapt skills training to labour market demand in response to industrial, sectoral, trade, technology and environmental developments, including Artificial Intelligence. The project in particular reviews broadly the existing literature on digitisation and changing skills demand, undertakes sector case studies and explores new methodologies.

Project 5: The future of work and the teaching profession

Focuses on the impact of new technologies on the teaching profession in the context of the future of work, and explores emerging skills needs, new pedagogical approaches, and the future management and governance of teachers. It aims to showcase trends and examples from all geographic regions; however, due to limited literature and research on the topic, it draws primarily from industrialized countries.

Project 6: Skills shortages and labor migration in the field of information and communication technology in India, Indonesia and Thailand

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the most critical aspects of the future of work in the ICT sector by assessing how technological changes, employment, migration and the organization of work and production in India, Indonesia and Thailand may be interrelated. The analysis focuses on the following three areas: (I) trends in the ICT sector and labor markets; (ii) the potential demand for ICT jobs and the anticipated shortages of skilled workers in the digital economy, as well as approaches for improving the education and training of ICT workers; (iii) factors affecting the migration of highly-skilled ICT workers.

Project 7: The future of work in textiles, clothing, leather and footwear, including the Potential application and use of digital technologies

This paper explores how technological advances, climate change, globalization and changing demographics will shape industries in the future. It then analyses the challenges and opportunities these drivers and megatrends bring for the realization of decent work. This is followed by a discussion of the future of TCLF production in three different categories of countries. The paper concludes with a call for action to shape a future that works for all – for the tens of thousands of mostly small and medium-sized enterprises as well as the millions of mostly young women workers that produce the clothes, shoes, and accessories we all wear.

Project 8: The Future of Shopping: personal consumption, sustainable development and decent work

This paper examines the labour dimensions of the shopping economy, discussing evidence of changing trends vis-à-vis technological changes, demographic trends and environmental sustainability. In particular, it analyses how current business models in the shopping economy have displaced and continue to displace jobs, with possible implications for greater job polarization, low wages, and vulnerable employment. Furthermore, looking at the environmental costs of mass production and consumption, it discusses patterns and implications that an alternative sustainable shopping model may have on the economy and on the employment. The paper then makes suggestions for policy options for governments, employer and worker organizations to reconcile employment and growth with the environmental constraints of consumer-led growth. In particular, it concludes that while the adoption of green technologies in production, transport, distribution and disposal of consumer goods are part of the answer to the problem, alternative macroeconomic models to consumer-led growth will need to be considered.

Project 9: Workshop: Can we use Big Data for Skills Anticipation and Matching? (Report “The feasibility of using big data in anticipating and matching skills needs)

New sources of data on skills have potential to provide more current and more specific information on skills needs than is available from the existing sources, and to do so in a cost-effective way. Technological advances, digitalisation and Internet platforms have made it possible to collect very rich and big datasets (“big data”) for many purposes. Data on the content of job advertisements has been collected systematically from online job postings in a range of countries, creating huge datasets containing detailed information on the requirements advertised. With this idea, the ILO organised last year a workshop featuring presentations given by representatives from partner organisations and academia, in order to discuss the feasibility of using online vacancy big data in the context of skills anticipation and matching. Papers related to the presentations are soon being published in a report entitled “The feasibility of using big data in anticipating and matching skills needs”.

Project 10: Pilot study – skills needs identification using online job vacancy and job applicants’ data

Vacancy data has already shown to have a huge potential as an emerging source for identifying labour market information. The derived analysis empowers governments, employers, workers, and educators to make labour market data-driven decisions, regarding, in particular, the skills requirements of labour markets. While efforts have mainly been concentrated on developed economies, our aim is to develop analytical methods for emerging and developing countries. In collaboration with BuscoJobs International, the largest job search engine in Uruguay, the aim is to allow the ILO’s Employment Policy and Research departments to use the job ad data to analyse changes in the task and skills requirements’ content of occupations, and thus to look closely at variations and trends in skills requirements. This research will feed into a broader ILO project aiming to draw meaningful conclusions on skills requirements for an occupation(s) across sectors, regions, and countries and over time. With regards to the BuscoJobs data for Uruguay in particular, the main goal is to produce a skills taxonomy based on the information derived from this database, and to use this taxonomy in research revolving around skills dynamics. From this perspective the analysis will be based on the study of job ads, firms characteristics, and applicants characteristics.

Project 11: Global Employment Trends for Youth 2020: Technology and the future of jobs

The report, published biennially, provides in-depth assessments of the trends and issues in the world of work facing young women and men. The 2020 edition of the report focuses on the impact of technological advances on youth labour markets, finding that young people who are employed face a greater risk than older workers of losing their jobs because of automation, and those with vocational training are particularly vulnerable. It also analyses both opportunities and risks for youth in terms of job destruction and creation, the use of digital technology to improve labour market programmes and sharing productivity gains.

Project 12: Sectoral meeting on Digitalization and the future of work in the financial services sector

The meeting will discuss challenges and opportunities relating to the impact that digitalization has on decent work in the finance sector. Particular focus will be on global trends, policies, and strategies that can help promote decent work in the sector as well as social and economic development.

Project 13: Digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and the transformation of economies

This project investigates how recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), the blockchain and other digital technologies impact labour and product markets in developed and developing economies. The project consists of different work streams that are partially overlapping and are strongly interlinked. These work streams are carried out with multiple partners inside and outside the ILO and include: (i) Digitalization, AI and the transformation of jobs; (ii) skills requirements in the digital age: AI as a tool for talent management and labour market efficiency increases on the macro level, (iii) sustainability through AI: trade-offs and complementarity of economic, social and environment dimension, (iv) AI and the transformation of markets: implications for competition law, IP and data privacy.

Project 14: Innovative Finance exploration between Social Finance and PARDEV

Phase I research conducted as part of the trilogy studies on safe, fair and sustainable agri-food supply chains in Asia – ‘STUDY ON THE FINTECH INNOVATIONS FOR SMALL FARMERS, FISHERFOLKS AND SMEs TOWARDS SAFE, FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA’ completed; The second phase will look into the champion cases in the Philippines and Vietnam and how Fintech innovations impact small farmers, fisherfolk, and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Project 15: EU-ILO-OECD Responsible Supply Chains in Asia project

Phase I research conducted as part of the trilogy studies on safe, fair and sustainable agri-food supply chains in Asia – ‘STUDY ON INNOVATIONS AND CHALLENGES IN DIGITAL TRACEABILITY TOWARDS SAFE, FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE FOOD SUPPLY CHAINS IN ASIA’ completed; The second phase will look into the champion cases in the Philippines, Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

Project 16: Competency Profiling App (funded through the PROSPECTS partnership)

The number of international migrants and refugees is growing rapidly. Between 2000 and 2017, the number increased from 173 million to 258 million (an increase of almost 50%). To reap the benefits of migration, states need to enable migrants and refugees to integrate into the labour market and society through access to employment opportunities. One important factor that prevents this relates to the under-utilization of migrants’ and refugees’ skills in countries of destination and upon return. It is therefore, vital not only to support governments in adopting policies and legislation that facilitates the access of migrant workers and refugees to the labour market but also to support them in developing and contextualizing technical solutions that may assist them to reduce the strain on public services whilst improving service delivery to the host-population. Therefore, the ILO Skills and Employability Branch is developing and pilot a web-application – for refugees, migrants and host populations in developing countries – that allows individuals to capture and present their past experiences, skills and competences acquired both formally and informally. The multi-lingual and minimal text-typing methodology allows individuals to produce a profile of their skills and competencies summarized in a standardized Curriculum Vitae, and in more detailed occupational competency profiles. Counsellors of employment services, UNHCR, NGOs or other service providers can also assist in filling in and completing the profile.

Related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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