OECD Forum Virtual Event: Empowering Workers & Delivering a Jobs-rich Recovery

How can governments roll out their recovery plans while continuing to support people most in need, creating jobs and better targeting support measures?

Like Comment

As part of an OECD Forum series, the virtual event Empowering Workers, Delivering a Jobs-rich Recovery took place on 13 July 2021 —watch the replay below!

Prospects for the world economy have brightened. The recent OECD Economic Outlook projected that GDP in OECD countries is expected to rise by 5.25% this year, the fastest growth in nearly half a century, though still only a return to 2019 levels. The projected growth is 6.9% for the United States.

The latest OECD Employment Outlook highlights that the situation in labour markets has also improved considerably, though not completely. The OECD-wide unemployment rate stood at 6.6% in May 2021, down from 8.8% a year before. In March 2021 hours worked were on average still 5.5% below the level reached in December 2019, but up from a slump of over 15% in the early months of the pandemic.

Read the latest OECD Employment Outlook 2021: Navigating the COVID-19 crisis and recovery and check out the digital report for facts, data, resources and more 

Read the latest OECD Employment Outlook 2021: Navigating the COVID-19 crisis and recoveryCheck out the  OECD Employment Outlook 2021 digital report for facts, data, resources and more 

In the United States, the unemployment rate is down 9 percentage points from almost 15% reached early in the pandemic. By March 2021 total hours worked in the United States had also largely recovered much of the ground lost. These trends highlight the policy path the United States took compared to other OECD countries to manage the COVID crisis. The United States relied heavily on (often temporary) lay-offs and enhanced unemployment benefits to reduce working time, while many other OECD countries relied on job retention schemes, which reduced hours but kept workers connected to jobs.

Across countries, the pandemic has particularly affected those most vulnerable in labour markets—including those in low-paying or temporary jobs, the low-skilled, women and young people. Public support has been broadly successful in protecting livelihoods, but labour market attachment among these groups has fallen. The United States, for example, experienced one of the largest increases in youth unemployment amongst OECD countries, with unemployment rate peaking at over 27% before settling at the current rate of over 9%. 

More on the Forum Network: Can we avoid a “pandemic scar” on youth? by Flavia Colonnese, Policy and Advocacy Manager, European Youth Forum

More on the Forum Network: Can we avoid a “pandemic scar” on youth? by Flavia Colonnese, Policy and Advocacy Manager, European Youth ForumMore on the Forum Network: Can we avoid a “pandemic scar” on youth? by Flavia Colonnese, Policy and Advocacy Manager, European Youth Forum

Bringing the virus under control, with public health measures and by getting the world vaccinated, is essential to the recovery. We need more jabs for more jobs. As governments roll out their recovery plans, it is also essential to continue supporting people most in need while providing incentives for job creation and better targeting support measures towards firms and jobs that have a viable future in the new post-COVID environment.

Countries have been committing unprecedented resources for the recovery. The American Rescue Plan has provided much needed support to deliver immediate relief to families and accelerate the recovery, while the European Union is borrowing on behalf of its member countries for the first time to support often large national recovery and resilience plans. As the 2021 OECD Employment Outlook highlights, these recovery plans present an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the key structural issues facing labour markets, including the digital and green transitions. This includes providing individualised support to help people reconnect to job opportunities. Countries need to invest in effective upskilling and reskilling programmes to help businesses, start-ups and workers transition to occupations and sectors with high growth potential. Finally, recovery plans need to address long-standing gaps in social protection, providing targeted as well as more systematic support.

Social partners will be critical to these efforts. In several countries, employers’ organisations and trade unions responded swiftly to the challenges raised by COVID-19, providing tailored and timely solutions to protect workers from COVID-19 and ensuring the continuity of many businesses. OECD work highlights the importance of effective collective bargaining and social dialogue in fostering inclusive and dynamic labour markets and enhancing job quality.


15:00     Introduction to the session, speakers & moderation

  • Anthony Gooch, Director, OECD Forum

15:05:    Opening

  • Mathias Cormann, Secretary-General, OECD 

15:15:    Keynote

  • Martin J. Walsh, U.S. Secretary of Labor 

15:25:    Presentation of the Employment Outlook

  • Stefano Scarpetta, Director, Labour, Employment and Social Affairs, OECD 

15:35:    Panel discussion

  • Jacques van den Broek, CEO, Randstad

  • Justina Nixon, Vice-President and Global Head, Corporate Social Responsibility, IBM (tbc)

  • Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, TUC

  • Manpreet Deol, Member, OECD Youthwise

Related Topics

Tackling COVID-19 Digital Inclusion Future of Education & Skills Future of Work Green Recovery Intergenerational Solidarity

Whether you agree, disagree or have another point of view, join the Forum Network for free using your email or social media accounts and tell us what's happening where you are. Your comments are what make the network the unique space it is, connecting citizens, experts and policy makers in open and respectful debate.


More Action in the decade of ACTIONS SDGs

Leave No One Behind