What are we talking about when we talk about post-COVID19 employment recovery?

25, March

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina Many of us who maintain that we were living an old abnormality. We were ...

By Martin Padulla for staffingamericalatina

Many of us who maintain that we were living an old abnormality. We were used to it. Many of us enjoyed it but something had to change, the consequences were devastating and COVID 2019 paralyzed the world in a period that history will be able to describe more accurately. Will this be a period of generalized introspection? Of redesigning our societies?

For Latin America, the consequences of the pandemic in terms of education and work could be catastrophic. The confinements, quarantines, social distancing or different names given to confinement in our countries have had an impact on different aspects of our life in society.

In Women’s Month, we know that close to 13 million Latin American women have left the labor force and are no longer looking for work. This implies a notorious decline in female labor participation, which is the lowest in the last 15 years. The IDB states that today there are 25 million unemployed women in the region.

The scenario is clear: 214.4 million poor.

The International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the World Employment Confederation have prepared a joint report on priorities for sustainable recovery.

The report highlights factors that drive the urgent need to reshape work, employability and the structure of the labor market to achieve some normalcy that is sustainable.

Among the factors are:

Informality: the pandemic has once again highlighted the vulnerability of workers and employers in the informal economy. In our region it showed the urgent need to create enabling framework conditions for businesses to establish themselves in the formal economy, hire and grow in the formal economy and contribute to the needs and development of societies and economies. It is clear that these conditions have not worked.

The creation of opportunities. Whether it is skills, gender, age we need to achieve better access to adequate social protection, digital infrastructure and formal jobs. We cannot allow this crisis to end in a humanitarian catastrophe. This polarization of opportunities must be reversed as a matter of urgency.

The private sector. Recovery can only occur through rapid, sustainable and inclusive private sector growth. Only through such private sector growth will people and societies overcome the devastating impact of the pandemic. Businesses will not spontaneously restart operations and economies will not be able to return to previous levels of prosperity without persistent and adequate support, both financially and through the creation of an enabling business environment.

Digital transformation. The pandemic has caused a quantum leap in digital transformation and how work is organized. The growth of remote work, the ability to collaborate online, new consumer trends and e-commerce demands, and the automation of global supply chains are testament to this. Labor market regulatory frameworks in Latin America do not reflect these changes; in some countries they seem to want to move in the opposite direction. We need to ensure that we take full advantage of the opportunities arising from the fact that people can more easily connect to quality jobs on a global horizon.

It is clear that we need diverse ways of working and diverse ways of acquiring knowledge, skills, competencies if we are to design a new sustainable normal.

Social innovation is key if we want to make the concept of inclusion a reality, if we really want to rethink social protection systems and if we want to achieve greater formality. True progressivism must ensure diversity in the broadest sense. It is not possible to think of a single way of becoming an employer; it is not possible to remain anchored in the 20th century.

Public-private articulation is essential. The concepts expressed by Mexican deputies and senators in the panel that I had the honor of moderating organized by IOE and WEC called Global Reflections for the Recovery of Employment after COVID19 in Mexico are still echoing in my ears. I was struck by the lack of knowledge about a basic concept: the triangular relationship of work, a concept that has modernized and energized many labor markets in the world, a model that has proven positive impacts for more than 30 years and that does not replace other work formats, it complements them! Diversity always adds, never subtracts.

My proposal was concrete, there will be no recovery without an urgent strategy that promotes public-private articulation between public employment services and private employment services, without private employment agencies adding value in training during transitions in order to reconvert and generate greater human capital and easy access to the formal labor market. The ratification of ILO Convention 181 is the key to Mexico’s ability to dynamize its labor market, recover employment, increase formality, improve the employability of its citizens and control that unfair players who commit abuses and crimes are not part of a scheme that should guarantee decent work.

The problem of the misnamed “outsourcing” in Mexico can be easily solved if social dialogue is prioritized, if circular arguments or old rhetoric are left behind and if the focus is placed on economic recovery with our feet in the 21st century.

Failure to do so could have dramatic consequences.