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The aim of the workshop was to discuss the impact that the Internet and other technologies have on the future of work, especially on young people entering the workforce, and equipping them with the right skills in order prepare for the future.
The moderator of the first part of the discussion on youth employment and the future of work, Ms Agustina Calligeri, Internet Society (ISOC), spoke about how the Internet has changed the nature of work today and the challenges and opportunities for young people seeking work. She suggested the need to examine aligning skills of young people in terms of employability, to bridge the skills gap while advancing economic development in their countries.
Mr Cláudio Lucena, Lecturer, Paraíba State University, Brazil, mentioned that digitalisation has had a deep and wide impact on work patterns. While there are concerns about the loss of jobs, there are also new types of jobs which need new skills that are being created. He emphasised the importance of engaging youth in discussion related to their employability in the future.
Ms Maria Prieto, International Labour Organization (ILO), spoke about the Future of Work initiative at ILO, its genesis, the creation of the high-level panel, and the expected panel recommendations that are due in January 2019. She also mentioned that since the way we work has been changing due to technological changes, it is important to analyse what the implications will be for youth, and what the other drivers of change are which influence the future of work, and of youth in particular. Prieto said that apart from technology, there are other drivers of change, including demographics, climate, globalisation, geo-political shifts, and cultural developments.
Ms Joy Wathagi Ndungu, Digital Grassroots, spoke about the future of work in Africa highlighting the cultural challenges prevalent in parts of Africa, regarding the use of the Internet to do work. She spoke of the Digital Grassroots initiatives to increase employability, and highlighted the challenges of working online, such as issues of pensions, days off, holidays, and cultural differences, to make the future of work better.
Mr Lars Steven, The Association of the Internet Industry (eco), pointed out that post-digitalisation, the speed of change related to job shifts today is unlike anything before. He shared the observation that digitisation of work has created new opportunities for jobs, and different forms of work. The critical question is how we shape the future and create a workforce with relevant skills. He further highlighted that eco is supporting initiatives to get the right skills required in job markets, especially for young people.
Ms Sevinc Aliyeva, Youth IGF Fellow, Azerbaijan, spoke about the challenges for youth and employment in her country, citing difficulties of cyclical employment, lack of employable skills, and gaps between job requirements and the skills available. She observed that the Internet can help youth to improve their skills, along with a national government strategy to improve access. She cited lack of awareness of the opportunities provided by the Internet and highlighted the role of government and the private sector in building capacity to make young people more employable.
Ms Bruna Martins Dos Santos, Coding Rights, moderating the second part of the session, which focused on capacity-building policies, stressed the importance of building digital skills from early childhood for the new generation.
Ms Verónica Arroyo, Policy Associate, AccesNow, spoke about challenges in Latin America pertaining to access: education, Internet and technology, gender gaps and giving more opportunity to women, and lack of digital skills. She also spoke of the tensions between the traditional work system and new work systems, and the lack of trust in young people and their limited experience, which hindered their employability.
Ms Ndeye Fatau Coundoul, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunication, Senegal, shared information about the initiatives taken in Senegal to improve employability and acquire digital skills. She highlighted the Digital Senegal 2025 initiatives.
Mr Sebastian Wee Kiat Hoe, National Youth Council, Singapore, outlined the initiatives taken by the national youth council there to improve digital literacy skills among young people, and other communities, such as senior citizens, to create community networks.
Responding to a question on recommendations for policymakers on skills and capacity-building, Prieto emphasised the need to make learning a long term goal at national level.
While summarising the session, Mr Pablo Hinojosa, Strategic Engagement Director, Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), mentioned that while there was discussion on platforms about challenges and initiatives, not much was said about opportunities. He also wondered about the need to find out the nature of future jobs – whether full time, and if they would follow a multidisciplinary approach in a multistakeholder setting.
By Amrita Choudhury