HIGH LEVEL EXCHANGE PANEL: Building equitable employment conditions and competences for the future of work "Monday 6 December 16.30 - 17.30 CET"


With emerging technologies already impacting the global labour market and some of their practical applications and risks still to be discovered, acquiring talent, and maintaining employees competent to deal with technological developments is strategically important. Access to technologies will tend to be less of a challenge than finding the manpower able to exploit them. Talent drains are common in the digital sector, as is difficulty finding the equitable conditions to manage labour-employer relationships.

The future of work will face several changes: a shift in demand away from office support positions, machine operators and other occupations, edging towards ICT professionals; a move from more stable relationships in employment to independent, flexible or freelance employment deprived of traditional social protection benefits; a need for constant updating of skills to keep pace with evolutions in technology; a transfer of human capacities to more reflective, creative, and complex tasks rather than repetitive and labour-intensive ones. 

However, the impact of these new technologies on labour markets and income distribution is not predetermined. The right policy mix and institutional arrangements can ensure that the benefits of innovation are shared broadly, which is an essential step to achieving the SDGs. Governments, as well as international organizations, should work together on an approach that facilitates the adoption and diffusion of new technologies while addressing their negative consequences.

Our daily work has become not only more dependent on digital skills, but also more mobile and less dependent on geography. This challenges us to create new forms of management and to refine the balance of remote work relationships. The so-called gig economy and its implication of unstable work conditions is a related issue. A discussion is pending on how to better address the challenge of permanent employment being increasingly substituted by temporary work, and a single employer being replaced by multiple concurrent ones, in ways that affect traditional workforce protections.

The discussion will focus on policy alternatives, from educational ones addressing early education (including STEM-focused) and constant reskilling for future employment, to ones dealing with new forms of balancing in employment relationships. The panel will reflect on policies that can help employees and society at large to manage the transition with as little disruption and as many benefits as possible.

Ms. Rinalia Abdul Rahim

Rinalia Abdul Rahim is Senior Vice President of Strategy, Communications, and Engagement at the Internet Society where she is responsible for enabling and enhancing the effectiveness and impact of the Internet Society in championing a bigger and stronger Internet. She leads multiple global teams and has a broad portfolio including Strategic Planning and Impact, Content and Communications, Community Engagement, External Engagement, and Training.

Mr. Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel

Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel (born 1969) has been Labour Relations Director and Managing Director at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH since October 2019. 

After completing a degree in political science, he worked as a research associate in the Institute of Political Science at the Justus Liebig University, Giessen. In 1998, he joined the city of Giessen’s department for social, school and youth affairs as an advisor.

Moderator: Ms. Liu Xin

Liu Xin is the award-winning host of The Point with LIU Xin on CGTN, the English-language branch of the China Media Group (CMG). She joined China's national broadcaster in 1997 and, for over a decade, she was a signature anchor of the English service. In 2011, she was posted to Geneva, Switzerland, to set up CCTV’s Geneva Bureau and served as the bureau chief for nearly six years. She then moved back to Beijing to host the new current affairs opinion show called The Point with Liu Xin. 

Mr. John Vamvakitis

John leads Google for Education’s international initiatives with teams spanning APAC, EMEA and LATAM.  He’s held senior-level roles across content, technology and management consulting and possesses a deep understanding of general management, strategic planning & new concept development with over thirty years of multi-functional executive experience ranging from venture funded start-ups to The Walt Disney Co., KPMG and Google.  

Mr. Luke McKend

Luke has been building businesses in the digital space for the last 20 years. He has had roles at successful European start-ups, as Country Manager for Google in South Africa, and most recently holds a position at Linkedin, responsible for their Public Sector and emerging market business in EMEA and Latin America. He was educated in South Africa and has a degree in English and Philosophy from Stellenbosch University. He is also on the board of the largest Insurance Aggregator in Africa and has a keen interest in the developing start-up ecosystem on the continent.

Mr. Wojciech Murdzek

A Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education and Science, longtime mayor of Świdnica, member of the Sejm. Active in the Parliamentary Security and Development Committee "Polska OdNowa". Chaired the commission for deregulation, a member of commissions of: economy, public finance and the so-called VAT inquiry. Worked on "the laws on innovation". Served as the minister of science and higher education and the viceminister of development.

Ms. Carmen Ligia Valderrama

Lawyer and specialist in Business Law from the Externado University (Colombia); Mrs. Valderrama holds a Master's degree in Business Law from the Garrigues & Andersen European Center for Business Studies and Training in Madrid (Spain), she is also a candidate for a doctorate in Private Law at the University of Salamanca (Spain).

Mr. Gbenga Sesan

Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, a pan-African social enterprise working on digital inclusion and digital rights through its offices in Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford University. Prior to starting Paradigm Initiative, ‘Gbenga led the Lagos Digital Village, a joint project of Junior Achievement of Nigeria, Microsoft and Lagos State Government.