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The future of work we want: A global dialogue

The Director-General set the scene for the two-day event based on the four centenary conversations.1 The first conversation, on work and society, raises a number of questions: What is the socializing function of work? How does the changing nature of work affect the coherence of our societies? How is work being diversified and undertaken in different settings and what are the economic consequences and the potential impact on our society? The second conversation focused on the nature and creation of jobs. This related to projections about the quantity and quality of employment to be created in the future around the world. Over the period until 2030, the priority was to consider how the international community could attain the commitment expressed in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create full employment and decent work for all by 2030, which is also at the heart of the ILO’s mandate. The third conversation, concerning the organization of work and production, dealt with the question of how work appears today to be more diversified and issues relating to the employer– employee relationship. The question is whether this relationship will be the defining organizing feature of work in the future or whether we are entering new territory, where work is no longer mediated through a labour relationship but rather through a commercialized relationship. The emergence of platform economies, the diversification of contractual forms and the increasingly complex nature of fragmented global supply chains all raise major questions about how these relationships will develop. The fourth conversation dealt with the governance of work. The founders of the ILO were moved by considerations of humanity, social justice and the preservation of peace. These three principles should be kept firmly in view as we consider the future of work and how best to govern work in order to serve society. Finally, and more importantly, the Centenary Initiative is seeking to broadly canvass the views of key actors in the world of work. It is through human agency, and not simply through the forces of technology or globalization or any other external factors, that the future of work will be forged.