G20 Executive Talk Series

B20 Executive Committee

Ingo Kramer

President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA)

Creating Employment Opportunities for Everybody Through Dynamic Labor Markets and a Global Level Playing Field for Fair Competition

The BDA’s central mission is to actively represent business interests in the field of employment, social, and industrial relations policy. Together with the trade unions BDA stands for the successful German model of social partnership. It has been the leading constituent of the B20 Employment and Education Task force. This task force was chaired by BDA Vice President Gerhard F. Braun and consisted of employers’ organizations as well as of companies from a variety of sectors. Its 98 members covering 26 countries were chosen with respect to geographical and gender balance, representing all continents. The members came together during several physical and online meetings. The result of this process is a 60 page policy paper treating relevant issues related to employment and education, which will shortly be presented.

In its policy recommendations, the Employment and Education Task Force focuses on three main topics: First, demographic changes, technological advancement, and an increased mobility are profoundly changing the world of work and are expected to do so even more in the future. Therefore, it is important for G20 members to promote open, dynamic, and inclusive labor markets. On the one hand, we need to remove legal and structural barriers on the labor market and promote diverse forms of work, such as full time, temporary or part-time work and other forms of flexible contracts. On the other hand, governments should ensure policy frameworks that improve female entrepreneurship and female labor market participation. Measures will include removing legal restrictions that hinder female participation in the labor market and finding ways to improve female access to careers in the STEM sector. Finally, G20 countries should bring labor migration policies in line with labor market needs by setting up an immigration law that is easy-to-understand and employment-friendly. It needs to allow easy access to the formal labor market and reduce incentives for informality.

Secondly, the technological change has led to diverging impacts on labor markets; in particular as regards the impact on skills and therefore education and learning for life. G20 members should harness the potential of technological change through better education and training, entrepreneurship and innovation frameworks. We need to implement clear and consistent regulations for businesses to operate and innovate in, while reducing bureaucracy and legal barriers to drive innovation. Best results will be achieved in close cooperation with companies.

G20 governments should also urgently invest in skill development. We want to instruct our workers in skills that make them competitive in the new economy. Therefore, the G20 should identify, jointly with the business community, the skill needs of each country and establish, in cooperation with the social partners, vocational training programs. Finally, G20 countries should promote entrepreneurship, which is crucial for more dynamic labor markets. Entrepreneurs are job creators. The G20 should support B20 actions regarding the G20 SMART Innovation Initiative, and reduce administrative, regulatory, and financial barriers for start-ups.

Thirdly, global trade has created many jobs and helped many workers to get even better jobs. However, human rights infringements as well as inadequate work conditions remain a concern. G20 members should create a global level playing field and promote fair competition. Governments have to implement and enforce legislation that is respecting human rights and labor protection standards. Companies have to respect human rights and national legislation and need to support improvements in working conditions. In fact, many companies are already actively contributing to create safe and healthy working environments. There are numerous alliances, initiatives, and measures to meet these responsibilities in global supply chains. Governments should not only acknowledge these existing efforts, but also build on existing initiatives such as the Vision Zero Fund, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. In the end, additional initiatives regarding global supply chains would jeopardize the success of the existing framework.

As a result of this work, I am pleased to see that the task force has come up with this very concrete and rich paper containing strong recommendations to policy makers. The goals mentioned can only be achieved by close international, cross-sectoral cooperation. Governments and businesses need to closely cooperate in order to find optimal solutions adapting to each national context.

Ingo Kramer is the President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), which represents more than one million businesses employing a total of over 24.5 million people. The BDA is the leading organization representing business interests in the field of social policy, labor law, industrial relations, education, human resources and CSR, European and international social policy. It is a discussion partner for its members, the general public, the German government and the German parliament. As a social partner BDA is in constant dialogue with trade unions and serves as a platform and catalyst for its sectoral and regional member federations regarding all questions of collective bargaining policy.