Thursday, January 23, 2014

ILO head emphasizes importance of employment

GENEVA, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- International Labor Organization (ILO) Director-General Guy Ryder says employment needs to be emphasized at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, which started Wednesday in Davos.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, which he has attended many times, Ryder said the event was a major opportunity for people to get together from all over the world and different fields such as business, governments, public and private sectors.
As for the theme this year, Reshaping of the World, Ryder says it means getting the real, productive and financial economies back into harmony, and has a lot in common with that of rebalancing.
Ryder said the ILO's key issue was jobs. He said unemployment was still a tough challenge for the world, with ILO's latest report on global employment trends showing unemployment will continue to increase in the coming years.
Another problem accompanying the unemployment issue would be inequality, which was listed as the biggest global risk in the World Economic Forum's recent global risk report, Ryder noted, adding unemployment and inequality were intertwined.
"What I think we have to focus on is getting the global economy to grow more quickly - it is still not quick enough to reduce unemployment - but then working out how the benefits of that growth could be shared in a fair way," said Ryder.
Among the factors that might lead to unemployment, Ryder said it was difficult to change demographic traits or to influence technology, which had its own dynamics, but the two things needed to be managed to get people back to work.
On the occasion of Davos, Ryder suggested that it would be of significant value if countries could coordinate their policy responses to a global crisis.
He also advised it was necessary to restore the balance of public finance and make sure the expansion of austerity policies would not smother economic growth, particularly in Europe. He also attached great importance to the essential role of investment in offering services to help people find jobs.
Ryder said his organization had made it a priority to pay close attention to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), considered the major source of employment, and try to find a balance between the protection and promotion of working conditions and the productivity of such corporations.
He said SMEs were challenged by problems such as low standards of employment, low payment and low productivity and many of them did not vigorously grow and tend to be short-lived. Therefore the improvement of their competitiveness was vital for their survival.
He suggested governments should be vitally concerned with the role of SMEs and offer them support.
He stressed SMEs, even the viable and successful ones, lacked good access to credit -- a key channel to financing. Ryder said it was essential to let SMEs borrow money from banks to keep production and sales going.
Talking about China's current economic transition, Ryder said the previous model served China well, but it was important to make this transition towards a more balanced economic growth model. He said the crisis helped to accelerate the way of thinking in China to move towards consumption rather than an investment-led economy and tap into internal market dynamics.
He said Beijing was paying attention to a social protection system, in order to encourage people to spend instead of save money, and was also embarking on increasing wages and tackling the problem of inequality.
Ryder said the ILO was positive about the type of transition China was trying to make, and was willing to work with China.
As for the challenges faced by China, Ryder said that, due to its size and importance in the global economy, China faced problems similar to other countries but these problems had their own unique features.
He named three major challenges as: employment, particularly creating jobs for young people; ensuring a fair distribution of the benefits of growth; and environmental sustainability.
As for the third challenge, Ryder said China was becoming a leader in many aspects of green technology, but its energy challenges still posed big questions, stressing it was vital to make the growth environmentally sustainable.
"Keeping growth at an acceptable level is important for China. The global economy needs strong, stable and predictable growth of the Chinese economy. I think, by and large, China has been able to help push the global economy forward," Ryder said.

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