Help educators now so they can help build a better future of work, says ILO

There is an urgent need to invest in education and in training and decent work for education workers, so they can contribute to the post-COVID-19 recovery, delegates at an ILO technical meeting on the future of work in the education sector have said.

Effective lifelong learning and quality education for all are essential for a better future of work. If teachers, trainers and support workers are to fill this need and pave the way to address the challenges that lie ahead, they will need to master new technologies and learning techniques, understand the skills’ needs of the labour market and receive support to deal with their expanded responsibilities.

“The future is going to require investment in education and skills, and we need teachers and education workers that are motivated and well-supported so they can prepare learners for life and work,” said Chad Blackman, the Ambassador of Barbados and Chairperson of the meeting, which brought together governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations from around the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge for educators. It has shown the rapidity of the changes that are already taking place, in particular the massive use of technology. These changes, on top of additional roles and responsibilities, are revolutionising the jobs of teachers, administrators and education support personnel.

The future is going to require investment in education and skills, and we need teachers and education workers that are motivated and well-supported so they can prepare learners for life and work.”

Chad Blackman, Ambassador of Barbados and Chairperson of the meeting

Another challenge ahead is connecting the world of education with the needs of employers, and investing in technical and vocational education and training.

“Ensuring that education and training systems are responsive to labour market needs is a top priority,” said the Employer Vice-Chairperson, Santiago García Gutiérrez. “There is an urgent need to connect the private sector to education and training, so as to provide resources and experience, and to equip learners with the skills that are in demand by employers.”

The challenges that are affecting the working conditions of educators need to be addressed and the best way to do it is through social dialogue, participants at the technical meeting stressed, delegates agreed.

“Social dialogue is crucial to promote decent work, including job stability, adequate wages, well-being, management of workload, educational policies and professional autonomy,” said the Worker Vice-Chairperson, Jelmer Evers. “The conclusions of the meeting also include provisions for collective bargaining on the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and data protection and privacy which will be important to ensure that educators have a voice in the many changes shaping education.”

The meeting adopted conclusions that give governments, employers and workers a strong mandate to invest in quality education and training and decent work for educators. Participants emphasized that education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility, and not a commodity. The meeting also underlined that the private sector has a role in the provision of quality education.

“The adoption of these conclusions is very important,” said the Government Vice-Chairperson, Ambassador Mahlet Hailu Guadey of Ethiopia. “Teachers and education personnel are the key element in quality education systems. Providing them decent work is critical for ensuring education quality.”

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