Chairs’ summary: G7 ministerial meeting on Preparing for jobs of the future

Under Canada’s 2018 G7 Presidency, the G7 Ministers of Employment and Innovation convened in Montréal on March 27-28, 2018, under the overarching theme of Preparing for jobs of the future. Globalization and emerging technologies are compelling G7 members to understand how the changing economy is impacting industries and workers and how governments can support all of their citizens to adapt and thrive in the new world of work. Discussions emphasized the fundamental shifts in our economy and labour market that these changes represent.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment were a key underlying theme of this Ministerial meeting. As persistent gender inequalities in society remain, G7 Ministers stressed the importance of closing the gender gap by encouraging and supporting more women to study and pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics; boosting women’s participation in the labour market, particularly in leadership roles; and recognizing equality of rights and opportunities for women and men. G7 Ministers further highlighted the importance of integrating gender analysis into government programming and budgeting, and of setting metrics, tracking results and having the right tools to meet the goal of gender empowerment.

As innovations drive our capacity for global growth and prosperity, the nature of work and the requirements for skills are also changing. Our countries are poised to become more productive and competitive, in order to shape a better future for our citizens.

Employment and Innovation Ministers jointly exchanged approaches on preparing for jobs of the future. G7 countries have a key role to play in supporting all segments of their diverse workforce to adapt and transition to the new economy, while meeting industry’s demand for skilled workers. By fostering collaboration with the private sector, labour organizations and educational institutions, Ministers will lay the building blocks for growth that includes everyone.

Employment Discussion

Building on the G7 Labour and Employment Ministers’ pledge for enhanced cooperation on the issue of the future of work during the 2017 G7 Italian Presidency, Employment Ministers focused their discussions on furthering their understanding of opportunities and challenges of the new economy in G7 countries and the impacts of technological change on different sectors, regions and populations. Employment Ministers discussed the importance of investing in digital literacy, foundational and social skills; as well as adaptable social protection systems to support those in non-standard forms of work.

Employment Ministers agreed to foster a dialogue among governments, social partners, private sector, and educational institutions to identify proactive measures to support workers through adaptation and transition to the jobs of the future and to foster good quality work environments, including within the digital platform economy.

Employment Ministers recognized that benefits of growth generated from innovation are not shared equally. Removing barriers to labour force participation for underrepresented groups and increasing access to quality jobs, must remain a focus by putting in place policies where everyone has a chance to succeed. Other measures to increase labour force participation should be considered, such as apprenticeship and training opportunities and adult upskilling programs. Additionally, pay equity is key to this goal and in line with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Employment Ministers agreed to promote discussions on tools to address violence and harassment in the workplace, in order to create safe workspaces and work with stakeholders on gender equality to develop and promote policies that prevent violence and harassment, respond effectively, and support those affected. In addition, G7 Employment Ministers established a time-limited Employment Task Force to further our understanding of these issues and provide recommendations, including sharing best practices and possible policy approaches on issues such as how governments can adjust labour market programs, modernise labour standards and social protection systems. The Task Force will include participation from international organizations, labour organizations, business and subject-matter experts, including in the area of gender equality, and be supported by a digital Future of Work Forum, which was launched during the Ministerial meeting. Canada will host the first meeting of the Task Force in 2018 under its Presidency.

Canada announced the creation of up to 500 student work placements in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) over three years and will explore future opportunities for collaboration with other G7 countries on work-integrated learning strategies and programs.

A full description of the Employment Ministerial outcomes is under Annex A.

Innovation Discussion

Building on the outcomes of the 2017 Italian ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and Industry Ministers’ Meeting on the Next Production Revolution in Torino, Italy the G7 Innovation Ministers turned their attention to the impact of transformative technologies on the economy and society. They discussed what policymakers can do to improve firm competitiveness, stimulate innovation and remove barriers to labour force participation, including for women, so that all members of society can benefit from transformative technologies.

Innovation Ministers focused their discussions on recent advances in areas such as robotics, AI, big data analytics, blockchain and clean technologies, and their potential to significantly improve our standard of living. They reaffirmed their commitment to supporting innovation and the importance of partnering with the private sector to ensure its benefits are enjoyed by all, including women and underrepresented groups. Ministers further agreed on the importance of appropriate and sensible business policies and efficient regulatory environments.

Innovation Ministers expressed a vision of human-centric artificial intelligence, which presents enormous opportunities to positively impact all G7 countries’ efforts to stimulate inclusive and sustainable growth and remove barriers to labour force participation, including in key areas such as health, economics, security and governance (See Annex B). Ministers noted the importance of government policy in stimulating innovation (See Annex C) through investing in collaborative innovation ecosystems; improving access to capital and adoption of technology for SMEs; supporting significant investments in R&D; enabling firms to tap into global talent pools; streamlining government programs; developing online platforms to support entrepreneurship; using government procurement to foster Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) innovation; refocusing investment in science, research and technology; promoting cyber-resiliency in value chains (particularly among MSMEs); and, especially, labour force training and skills development.

To advance their shared understanding of how best to seize the opportunities presented by AI, G7 Innovation Ministers decided to convene a multi-stakeholder conference on AI, to be hosted by Canada in the fall of 2018. Canada will strike a time-limited working-group to advance the efforts and objectives of the AI statement and prepare for the conference. This conference will bring together stakeholders including government, academics, specialists, and private sector partners to discuss future economic, legal, social, and ethical issues relating to the development and deployment of AI and how to harness the potential of this transformative technology to break down barriers to labour force participation. Further, recognizing that opportunities presented by AI demand a multi-stakeholder approach, Innovation Ministers endorsed multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration on AI.

Employment and Innovation Ministers also recognized the importance of social dialogue, appreciated the input of key stakeholders to their discussions, and were grateful to the OECD and the ILO for their collaboration and support of our work. Finally, Ministers look forward to the French government assuming the 2019 G7 Presidency and to continue working together.