MISTICA: Fwd: ILO's Report 2001: ... Digital Divide Looms Large

From: Daniel Pimienta (
Date: Thu Jan 25 2001 - 20:08:03 AST

>From: "Guy Girardet" <>
>To: "'dotforce'" <>
>Subject: [DotForce] ILO's World Employment Report 2001: ... Digital Divide
>Looms Large
>This recent ILO Press Release may be of interest to this group.
>Guy Girardet
>Special Development Advisor
>Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation
> /
>Press Release (ILO/01/02): ILO's World Employment Report 2001:
>Despite Improved Employment Outlook, Digital Divide Looms Large- Public
>Wednesday 24 January 2001
>( ILO/01/03 )
>GENEVA (ILO News) - Despite improvements in labour market performance in
>industrialized countries and the growing potential of information technology
>to create jobs and spur development, the global employment picture remains
>"deeply flawed" for workers in many parts of the world, according to a new
>report by the International Labour Office (ILO).
>The ILO's "World Employment Report 2001*: Life at Work in the Information
>Economy" finds that despite the communications revolution taking place in
>the world today, increasing numbers of workers are unable to find jobs or
>access to the emerging technological resources needed to ensure productivity
>in an increasingly digitalized global economy.
>In addition, the latest World Employment Report also finds that, given its
>different speed of diffusion in wealthy and poor countries, the information
>and communications technology (ICT) revolution is resulting in a widening
>global "digital divide."
>The report says that unless this is addressed urgently, the employment
>aspirations and productivity potential of millions of workers in scores of
>developing countries cannot be realized. Access to the technologies and
>ensuring that workers possess the education and skills to use them are the
>fundamental policies that developing countries need to consider, the
>report notes.
>"The ICT revolution offers genuine potential, but also raises the risk that
>a significant portion of the world will lose out," said Juan Somavia,
>Director-General of the ILO. "Let us strip out the hype. What is left?
>What's left is its effect on peoples' lives, wherever they live. We need
>to promote policies and develop institutions which will let everybody
>benefit. And it won't happen on its own."
>Among key findings of the report are:
> Despite the phenomenal growth of ICT in the industrialized world and its
>increasing penetration into developing countries, vast swathes of the
>globe remain "technologically disconnected" from the benefits of the
>electronic marvels revolutionizing life, work and communications in the
>digital era;
> ICT provides an "enabling potential" to improve women's lives. But the
>report does find that a "digital gender gap" is apparent within countries,
>as women often find themselves occupying lower-level ICT jobs while men rise
>to higher paying, more responsible positions.
>"ICT can and will provide benefits for women," Mr. Somavia said, "and it is
>one of my highest priorities to make sure this digital gender gap doesn't
>wider, that women are not left behind on the digital highway."
>Employment prospects improving
>The report insists that ICT can have a far-reaching impact on the quality of
>life of workers in poorer countries if the right policies and institutions
>are in place and serve as important spurs to development and job growth.
>In some cases, the high mobility of ICT capital and its inherently
>knowledge-based nature may allow lower income countries to "leapfrog"
>stages in traditional economic development via investments in human
>For this to occur, three needs are most important: a coherent national
>strategy toward ICT, the existence of an affordable telecom
>infrastructure, and the availability of an educated workforce.
>"We know that ICT is global in its reach, irreversible in its drive and
>pervasive in its impact," Mr. Somavia said. "But if the dotcoms are to play
>an effective role in contributing to our goal of providing decent work for
>everybody, we must make sure that the policy framework exists globally and
>that these three needs are addressed."
>"Investment in basic and higher education is the most critical policy tool
>available to governments to reap the benefits of ICT," the report says. "No
>developing country has successfully secured a niche in global markets for
>intangible products without having a well-educated workforce. Education and
>economic growth, moreover, are complementary, and investment in the former
>is likely to result in the latter. This causal link might be truer still
>of the emerging knowledge-based economy, in which the most critical source of
>wealth creation is knowledge, not physical inputs or natural resources."
>Other policy considerations
>The report reaches a number of other policy conclusions, perhaps the most
>fundamental of which is the prediction that countries which fail to get on
>board the digital revolution, or are late starters, face loss of competitive
>economic strength and market share, as well as possible decline in
>national income.
>International assistance and technical cooperation to developing countries
>willbe of value, but what is most needed are coherent strategies and
>actions at their own national levels.
>"Indeed, in these early days of the communications revolution, the data,
>such as they are, illustrate more current risks than future rewards, for
>cleavages do exist and are widening and the quality of life on the job
>reveals negative as well as positive effects," the report says. "There are
>solutions to these problems, solutions that do not rely on turning back
>the technological clock."
>The conclusions also concern:
>Trade policies: Governments should encourage the growth of the domestic ICT
>sector while making imported inputs available at the right prices. The
>international trade regime needs to be sensitive to policies that encourage
>the growth of the ICT sector in the developing world.
>Migration of skilled workers: In the case of migration of highly skilled
>workers in the digital economy, the report also notes that countries
>receiving such digital migrants should not neglect the training of their
>workforce. At the same time, countries of origin should develop policies
>that encourage for retaining or repatriating their highly skilled workers.
>Older workers: Regarding an ageing workforce, the report notes that more
>retraining on the job will be needed. Policies need to address the older
>worker in particular with respect to learning opportunities and to
>guarding against age discrimination in the workforce.
>New workplace concerns: Existing laws and policies may need to be reviewed
>as new workplace concerns are rising - stress, privacy, intellectual
>right of access to communications media. Existing labour market policies and
>labour laws may not take adequate account of the fact that ICT affects the
>life at work of women and men differently.
>Traditional industries: Application of ICT to traditional industries,
>agriculture and fisheries for example, could result in important efficiency
>gains in developing countries.
>"The most important final conclusion is that we can make a difference," Mr.
>Somavia noted. "With the right policies and institutions, we can steer the
>ICT revolution. We must build partnerships, provide education and promote
>socially responsible connectivity to have social justice in our world as
>well as the e-world. Let's ensure that dotcoms are synonymous with decent
>* * * * *

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