The COVID 19 pandemic sparked a global health crisis without parallel in living memory. With vaccination rates speeding up in many countries, the future is starting to look brighter, but more for some and less for others. The economic and jobs crisis it unleashed is far from over. To draw lessons from this crisis and identify paths to rebuild better labour markets, Ministers from over 40 countries will gather for the OECD Employment and Labour Ministerial Meeting on 15 December 2021, at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, France. The Ministerial Meeting will be chaired by the United Kingdom, with Australia, Belgium, Estonia, Mexico and Spain as Vice-Chairs.
Ministers will discuss issues that are high up on the policy agenda of all OECD countries, under the overarching theme “Moving beyond the COVID-19 crisis to a better labour market that works for all”. The Ministerial meeting will provide an opportunity to come together at a critical time to consolidate the economic and labour market recovery in light of ongoing changes in the world of work. It will provide an opportunity to discuss how governments can seize the opportunity to build back better after the global pandemic in a way that benefits all and delivers jobs, prosperity and well-being. The meeting will also serve to identify priority topics for future OECD work in the area of employment and labour market policies.
Ahead of the Ministerial Meeting, the OECD will host a High Level Policy Forum on 14 December 2021, at the OECD Headquarters in Paris, France.
The Forum will inform the discussion on how to move beyond the COVID-19 crisis and build back an inclusive labour market. It will focus on questions related to changes in the workplace in a post-pandemic world, opportunities and challenges posed by the necessary adaptation to a low-carbon economy, as well as progress in the field of artificial intelligence and its interaction with the labour market.
The Forum will facilitate a lively and free-flowing debate between over 300 participants, through interactive interfaces and innovative discussion formats. Participants will have the opportunity to engage with each other and speakers in an informal setting. The discussions from the Forum will inform the Ministerial discussion, as well as national public debates, and feed into the OECD’s work programme.
The state of play:Seizing the moment to build an inclusive labour market
Sixteen months after the outbreak of a global health crisis which caused a massive shock to economies and societies, the future of labour markets remains uncertain. Many countries are accelerating their pace of vaccination, but there remain significant downside risks, including the spread of new variants of the COVID-19 virus. Many OECD countries will not re-gain their pre-COVID GDP level before 2022, and for emerging and developing countries this target is further down the road. As of July 2021, the labour market shock has not been re-absorbed in the OECD area: despite the gradual recovery there are still over 8 million more unemployed than before the crisis, and 14 million more inactive. According to current projections, the OECD area will not be able to regain its pre-pandemic employment levels by the end of 2022.
The 2021 Employment Ministerial Meeting and High-Level Policy-Forum will provide an opportunity for Ministers to draw lessons from the COVID-19 crisis and to discuss how to consolidate the labour market recovery in light of ongoing changes in the world of work. At the meeting, ministers will also define priorities for future OECD work that supports countries in improving the functioning of their labour markets.