G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting: Shaping the Future of Work


Remarks by Angel Gurría,

OECD Secretary-General

Bad Neuenahr, Germany, 19 May 2017

(As prepared for delivery)

Dear Ministers,

Globalisation, demographic trends and technological change are transforming jobs in our economy.

9% of jobs across OECD countries could be automated in the next 15-20 years and a further 25% are at risk of significant change. The risk in emerging economies is even larger. According to recent studies, China and India together account for the largest technically automatable employment potential — more than 700 million full-time equivalents between them.

New skills are required: for example in Europe, the labour demand for high-skilled jobs has grown 20% while the demand for routine skills has decreased almost 20% from the mid-1990s to 2010.

The sharing economy and the “gig” economy are challenging labour market institutions, questioning the very definition of what is a “job” and raising concerns about job quality. But they also offer opportunities, particularly for emerging economies. Evidence suggests that current contract flows on digital labour platforms are largely North-South.

At the same time, technological change creates new jobs - think of app developers or robot engineers. It increases productivity in existing jobs and may improve the quality of many jobs.

But we need strong policy action now to minimize the disruptive impact and make sure all of society benefits from these mega-trends.

This starts with building the right skills.

There is a massive skills mismatch today. The OECD Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies data shows that more than 50% of adults in 28 OECD countries have no digital skills, or have only the skills necessary to fulfil the simplest set of tasks in a technology-rich environment.

This will also help countries make globalisation work for all: our Skills Outlook finds that countries such as Germany and Korea have benefited from Global Value Chains by increasing their specialisation in technologically advanced industries and improving the skill mix of workers.

But we also need to provide adequate social protection for the changing forms of work and promote an enabling environment for good quality jobs to minimise the chances of people slipping through the holes. In some ways, many emerging economies are ahead of the curve here, and already have in place universal non-contributory schemes, as well as job guarantee programmes.

Finally, strong social dialogue is important to strengthen workers’ voice and enable fair and flexible working arrangements to emerge at the firm level.

The G20 has developed with our support useful tools such as the G20 Skills Strategy and the G20 Framework for Quality Jobs and we look forward to working with all of you to make sure the future of work brings more and better jobs.



See also

OECD work on employment

OECD work on skills

OECD work on social and welfare issues


Related Documents


Annual report
Discover the
Read our
annual report