December 2017

Issue Home >>


As he greeted participants at the opening of the Caribbean Research Consultation on the Future of Work, Campus Principal, Professor Brian Copeland, reminded them that they knew about Trinidad and Tobago’s ageing population. “Take that together with global trends to lower birth rates and increasing lifespans and we understand clearly why the National Insurance Board is already implementing measures to ensure preservation of the fund in the interest of current and future working generations. You’ve probably already worked out the statistics behind it all. Pair these sobering factors with weak investment channels and we are heading up a creek without a paddle. Or, are we already there?”

The Principal went on to talk about how quickly technology was changing. “How are we, as a people, seizing the opportunity to be a leader of that revolution and make it work for us where the world is our market? I am a firm believer that technology can be the driving force as well as the fuel to grow the much needed spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship across our country and region. For, make no mistake; in considering the future of work in the Caribbean, the fostering of entrepreneurship and innovation is essential if we are to truly achieve decent work for all.”

This Consultation on December 4, came about because the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its members have implemented a Future of Work Initiative to run until the centennial International Labour Conference in 2019. The idea is to better understand the transformational changes taking place in the world of work and to understand the processes of change so as to respond effectively. Against this backdrop, the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean together with the ILO Research Department, in partnership with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at The UWI were interested in determining the current knowledge on selected key themes – as well as research orientation in the region for the near future – with the ultimate goal of determining research gaps and address them in the most suitable way.

Addressing the opening as well, the Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, Ms. Claudia Coenjaerts, said, “In the past year, 110 member states took up the invitation to undertake national dialogues on the Future of Work in 2016. These dialogues, were structured around four themes: (1) work and society; work is not only for material needs but also has a crucial social function; (2) decent jobs for all; where will the jobs come from especially for young people? (3) the organization of work and production; how do we respond to global supply chains, changing enterprises and the digital economy and (4) the governance of work; what kind of social contract do we decide for? Which rules, processes and institutions do we need to ensure social and labour protections and equitable redistribution?”

She asked participants to “help us articulate what are the key transitions and issues in the Caribbean in relation to the role of work in society, the creation of decent jobs for all, emerging ways of organizing work and production, and the governance of work in the Caribbean.”