At a two-day conference "Digitalisation and Employment - effective strategies to shape the future of work" on 4-5 December 2017 in Cape Town, State Secretary Thorben Albrecht and the South African Vice-Minister of Labour Inkosi Holomisa pointed to the crucial importance of a shared understanding of decent work in the age of globalisation and digitalisation. State Secretary Albrecht underlined:
Digitalisation and technological change affect labour markets in all countries, sectors and regions in different ways. An active dialogue across countries and among governments, businesses and social partners is crucial to understand mutual challenges, exchange innovative policies and develop targeted solutions. A common understanding of decent work in the future world of work should serve as a prerequisite for that.
In his keynote address, Vice-Minister Holomisa referred to the international discourse on the future of work and called automation and digitalisation two of the most controversial issues in the current policy debate. Addressing the question of how to reap the benefits from digitalisation and ensure that all people take advantage should therefore be at the heart of the national and global debates. At the same time, and even in view of the difficult national circumstances with increasing inequality or high youth unemployment, it was crucial to recognise the opportunities that lie within this change, and to work together as governments and social partners on new solutions, e.g. in the area of education.
Conference "Digitalisation and Employment - Effective strategies in shaping the future of work"
In his conclusions to the conference, Vice-Minister Holomisa announced the drafting of a national strategy on the future of work for South Africa. The national "Work 4.0"-process in Germany that the BMAS had implemented would serve as an important reference, the Vice-Minister said.
The conference is part of the ongoing work programme of the German-South African Binational Commission of the Federal Government, which aims at strengthening cooperation between the countries. It was implemented with support from the German Embassy in Pretoria as well as the German Consulate in Cape Town and builds on this year’s commitment by the G20 Labour and Employment Ministers to develop targeted policies to shape the future of work.
Governments, social partners and academics from both countries were invited to identify successful labour, social and industrial relations policies and discuss respective practices in view of the future of work. The programme also included sector-specific dialogues in the areas of banking, agriculture, manufacturing and health/care, and an on-site visit to the start-up incubator "Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CITI)".
For Germany, in addition to BMAS, the group of participants included representatives from the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), the German United Services Trade Union (ver.di) and the Industrial Union of Metalworkers (IG Metall), as well as representatives from the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), the Federation of German Employers’ Associations in the Metal and Electric Engineering Industries, the German Federation of Chemical Employers Associations and the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) of the Federal Employment Agency.