Decent Work and Economic Development workshop

Decent work strengthens a healthy and flourishing life of working people. Scientific research has demonstrated this and proposed models of good practice, but action is required for their sustainable implementation.

Workshop summary:

The SDG’s agenda of “promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all “contrasts sharply with the current world’s labour market reality. Worldwide, almost two billion people are employed in informal work, without basic social protection. Precarious and dangerous work and high risk of long-term unemployment are frequent in low- and middle-income countries, and in some of these countries child labor and slavery are not yet under control. Labour market participation of women is still restricted in a majority of countries, along with wage discrimination (ILO Report Future of Work, Geneva, January 2019).

In high-income countries, economic globalization and technological progress through automation, digitalization and artificial intelligence are exerting substantial impact on employment opportunities, quality of work, as well as on the health and wellbeing of workforces. There is now a substantial body of scientific evidence available identifying health-adverse material and psychosocial working conditions in economically developed and rapidly developing countries. Based on this research, successful models of how to develop health-conducive work and employment conditions were established, and it was shown that the practical implementation of these models is strengthened by distinct labour and social policies at national level.

Unfortunately, this evidence-based knowledge has only marginally reached the decision-making bodies, institutions and shareholders to influence their economic policies. Rather, neoliberal concepts of short-term economic and financial profit are prevailing, fueled by influential, but increasingly challenged paradigm of academic economics.

A major aim of the proposed workshop is to discuss the main goals and contents of higher education initiatives/programs that strengthen the knowledge and competences of decision-makers in corporations, large companies, federations, ministries, trade unions and other organizations to promote sustainable and decent work and ways of developing economic growth in accordance with environmental protection. Related questions to be discussed are, e.g., What are the most urgent messages to be disseminated through such initiatives? Is there a consensus among the staff involved about leading ethical principles and didactic approaches to be realized? How to reach and motivate major decision-makers to participate in such initiatives? What are the organizational and financial prerequisites for the success of such initiatives? In view of the huge challenges of improving work and employment on a global scale, what additional initiatives should be considered? For instance, should higher education efforts be supported by disseminations of professional declarations by scientific networks/associations? Should links be developed with political movements, civil society activities etc. to develop targeted initiatives?


Suggested material to prepare for the workshop:

Book chapter:

Social inequalities in work and health in a globalized economy. Professor Johannes Siegrist.


Policy document:  

Global Commission on the Future of Work. Work for a brighter future, ILO 2019. (Recommendations from a high level commission representing governments, trade unions, and employers co-chaired by president Cyril Ramaphosa and PM Stefan Löfven. The 6-page executive summary is recommended)—dgreports/—cabinet/documents/publication/wcms_662410.pdf


International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder gives a quick overview of the main challenges in a short (3 min) BBC inteview  on the future of work (2017)

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder describing the dramatically changing work experience of millions of workers and callling for action “without all the customary taboos” in a statement on The Future of Work at the OECD New World Forum October 2014 (13 min)

Additional material:

Working conditions and social inequalities in health:

Promoting good quality jobs to reduce health inequalities. (Briefing in series on local action on health inequalities from UCL Institute of Health Equity, Director Professor Sir Michael Marmot)

Arbetsmiljö och jämlik hälsa (Report [in Swedish] to the Swedish Commission on Equity in Health), with descriptive data and recommendations

Non-standard employment and job quality in Europe:

Working conditions: Employment status and job quality, Eurofound 2018. (This timely report describes relations between employment status and workers’ job quality and quality of working life. We recommend the 3-page abstract and executive summary)

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