Young women need more ‘decent job opportunities’ says ILO employment policy head

Young women need more ‘decent job opportunities’ says ILO employment policy head - Business and Finance - News

Title: Empowering Women in the Workforce: A Conversation with Sangheon Lee of the International Labour Organization (ILO)

Women around the world continue to face significant disparities in employment opportunities and wages compared to their male counterparts. According to the United Nations (UN), women are less likely to be entrepreneurs, earn lower salaries, and experience higher rates of food insecurity than men. To address these challenges, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has been developing policies aimed at achieving full employment and providing better job opportunities for young people, with a particular focus on women.

As the Director of the Employment Policy Department at the ILO, Sangheon Lee is leading efforts to ensure that young women can fully participate in the workforce. In this exclusive interview with CNN, conducted ahead of International Women’s Day, Lee discussed her organization’s initiatives to help young women enter the workforce and addressed the challenges posed by technological disruption.

CNN: How is the ILO working to help young women secure a place in the workforce?

Sangheon Lee: This is one of our most significant challenges. While we have seen remarkable progress in women’s education levels over the past few decades, the translation of that educational achievement into meaningful job opportunities has been less than satisfactory. We are focused on finding ways to create more real and decent employment opportunities for young women, particularly in this region where the issue is of great importance.

CNN: What are your thoughts on the position of women in the workforce within this region?

Sangheon Lee: While there have been considerable improvements in educational opportunities for women throughout the region, overall progress towards gender equality in the workforce remains limited. Many governments have made great strides in providing access to education, but more investment and attention is needed to translate these achievements into actual job opportunities. Our goal is to help bridge that gap by creating a conducive environment for young women to enter the workforce with the necessary skills and qualifications.

CNN: How is the ILO addressing global employment challenges stemming from technological disruption?

Sangheon Lee: Our approach begins with providing better training opportunities to help older workers acquire the necessary skills for the evolving labor market. The nature of work is constantly changing, and technology is driving significant shifts in labor markets and demands. By equipping workers with updated skills through effective training programs, we aim to help them adapt to the new realities of the workforce. Additionally, we are collaborating with governments and private sector entities to create job opportunities for those who acquire these skills.

CNN: What successful strategies has the ILO employed to foster inclusivity and sustainability?

Sangheon Lee: With the current global focus on green and digital transitions, it’s essential that governments recognize the importance of investing in skills and training as part of their investment strategies. Infrastructure development is crucial but insufficient without proper attention to skills training for workers who will be required to adapt to the new labor market realities. Our role is to ensure that governments take these elements into consideration in their investment decisions.

CNN: In light of the profound changes brought about by the pandemic, what do you foresee for the future of the workforce?

Sangheon Lee: Uncertainty will continue to define the labor market in the coming years. As we navigate these changes, adaptability and resilience will become increasingly important skills for workers to possess. Our role is to help equip them with the tools they need to succeed in this evolving environment, whether that be through training programs focused on generic skills and soft skills or by fostering a conducive policy landscape for job creation.