A Conversation with G20 Labour Sherpas
Blog by: Dr. Ilham Mansour Al-Dakheel
Over the last several months, the B20 Saudi Arabia’s Future of Work & Education Taskforce has worked diligently on recommendations for more and better employment, inclusive growth and sustainable development. When we began our work in January, we could not have expected the unprecedented situation that was about to unfold. Forms of employment and requirements of skills were already changing at speed, but now, with the rapidly transforming business environment in the wake of COVID-19, the issues our taskforce is addressing are more important and relevant than ever for both developed and developing countries.
We recently had the pleasure of meeting virtually with several G20 Labour Sherpas to discuss necessary action to address the economic and employment impact of the pandemic and to plan for a recovery. Rather than dwell on the challenges, our goal was to focus on solutions and how we can work together to leverage impactful and inclusive change.
Both, the B20 and G20 have been working on crafting policy recommendations that are as actionable as possible. Our focus is not solely on responding to the current crisis, but also building confidence, dynamism, and resilience in future labor markets so that businesses and workers can be better prepared to mitigate future crises of this magnitude.
One component of this is ensuring that micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and entrepreneurs alike are not only equipped to survive the crisis, but also thrive as they undergo the recovery phase. MSMEs and entrepreneurs are rightfully recognized as engines for economic growth as they account for the bulk of the workforce and value-added to the global economy. The support of MSMEs and entrepreneurs is essential for both short-term revival and long-term resilience. We are, therefore, looking at several ways to simplify regulatory environments and ease access to finance and relevant digital infrastructure so we can enable simpler international expansion and operation of MSMEs, both of which represent a major obstacle to the ability of MSMEs to withstand substantial disruptions such as COVID-19.
Further, skill demands will continue to evolve rapidly both during and after the pandemic. Education systems will need to continually adapt accordingly, and policies will be needed to upgrade education curricula and teaching approaches to reskill, upskill and train future generations, especially under-represented groups such as minorities and women.
Throughout the process of drafting our recommendations, our taskforce has worked closely with the Women in Business Action Council to address the specific and unique challenges women are facing as a result of the pandemic – including ones that existed before but have been heightened by the pandemic such as underrepresentation in the workforce and a disproportionate share of family care responsibilities. Our collaborative efforts will help transform the role of women across the global economy and ensure they are equipped for future roles, opening new opportunities for economic growth.
The policy paper we will soon release is only a means to an end. Our ultimate goal is to stimulate action to positively impact livelihoods across the globe. The measures we take now to drive the future of work and education will prepare our society to learn and recover from the pandemic and prosper for generations to come.
Dr. Ilham Mansour Al-Dakheel is Chair of the Future of Work & Education Taskforce at B20 Saudi Arabia & CEO of Dur Alkuttab, an educational company established in 2016, following a strategic alliance between the Higher Education Fund of the Ministry of Education and Mulkia Investment Company.