G20 labour and employment ministers met yesterday with President Obama and presented him with their recommendations to meet the challenges that the economic crisis is posing for workers and their families worldwide. This was the first time that ministers responsible for labour markets in the 20 largest economies in the world had met.
The ministers reviewed the massive programs launched in the last year to respond to the crisis and discussed additional measures to ensure a sustained recovery that produces enough jobs for workers. The labour and employment ministers also discussed a 21st century job skills training strategy.
Under the heading “Prepare our workforces for future challenges and opportunities” they stated that “education, lifelong learning, job training and skills development strategies should be prioritized and linked to growth strategies.”
Trade union leaders from the G20 countries and the EU met with the ministers on Monday to present the views of the labour movement, based on a comprehensive Global Unions paper entitled: “Beating the Jobs Crisis”. They also met with the heads of the World Bank and the IMF.
Several European ministers were blocked from attending the meeting by the paralysis of air traffic over Europe this week and were represented by their top officials (known in G8/G20 jargon as “sherpas”). EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen, who was to have represented the Global Union Federations (GUFs) was also blocked. Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), was in the US and stepped in at the last minute. EI and BWI had worked closely together on preparation for the G20 Labour Ministers meeting, particularly at a Global Dialogue Forum at the ILO in Geneva on 29-30 March on “Upskilling out of the Downturn”.
Together with other Global Unions, EI will continue to work closely with the ILO and the OECD on the development of effective strategies for Vocational Education and Training inallcountries – whether in the G20 or not.