The future of work is one of the five core themes of the G7 Charlevoix Summit. Central to this issue is the rapid and exponential technological change that characterises the new industrial revolution. This has been framed by the G7 as simultaneously a threat and an opportunity, as digitalisation will both displace and create jobs. Those trained in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will be on the winning side, as will those in the traditionally female-dominated caring economy. G7 host Canada has recognised that including women in the workforce is key to minimising unemployment, and it will thus frame the discussions at Charlevoix through a gender lens, notably via the pioneering Gender Equality Advisory Panel.
But how well will the G7 perform on labour and employment at Charlevoix? Taking a detailed look at past commitments and compliance can help answer this question.
The link between technology and employment
Since the G7 was created in 1975, it has made 75 core collective, politically binding, future-oriented labour and employment commitments. It has also made several related commitments that refer to employment but focus on other issues, such as human rights, education, development and gender.
Of the 75 core commitments, only five link technology and employment. Four of these were made in the 1980s and 90s, and the fifth was not made until the 2017 Taormina Summit. Similarly, of the related commitments only two made the tech-employment link: both in the 1980s in reference to the Working Group on Technology, Growth and Employment. One was on economic growth and technology, and the other was on the environment. The G7 has evidently not paid much attention to supporting workers’ adaptation to technological change, even in the clean energy sector.
On the link between gender and employment, however, there has been more progress. At Taormina last year, G7 leaders produced the stand-alone Roadmap for a Gender-Responsive Economic Environment. It contained 20 commitments dedicated to gender and employment. The commitments addressed three issues: unpaid care and domestic work, work-life balance and equal pay, and the promotion of women and girls seeking careers in STEM fields.
Compliance on commitments
The two labour and employment commitments selected for assessment by the G7 Research Group averaged a compliance score of 78%. Four related commitments were also assessed, with an 80% average. Average compliance with all six commitments was 79%.
One of these commitments was made at the Lyon Summit in 1996 and had compliance of 67%. One was made at the 2012 Camp David Summit, with compliance of 89%. One, with a development focus, was made at the 2013 Lough Erne Summit and had 61% compliance. Two were made at the 2015 Schloss Elmau Summit, both with 75% compliance: one was on macroeconomic policy and the other was on supporting women entrepreneurs. One commitment was assessed from the 2016 Ise-Shima Summit. It was also on gender and sought to encourage women in STEM careers. Here, average compliance was 82%.
The G7 Research Group has also monitored four employment-related commitments made at the 2017 Taormina Summit. One was on harnessing the job-creation opportunities offered by the transformation of the energy sector and clean technology, and one was on improving working conditions by implementing sound labour market policies; both scored 69% in the interim compliance report.
The G7 is doing better on its gender and youth commitments. With the Taormina commitment on encouraging women’s participation in the private sector, interim compliance was a high 81%. And the one on providing youth in Africa with adequate skills for a ‘prosperous and
safe future’ had an interim compliance score of 88%.
Building on pledges
To improve compliance with their commitments, G7 leaders at Charlevoix can employ effective accountability measures that they directly control. The G7 Research Group has found several mechanisms that tend to increase compliance, such as referring to a core international organisation in a commitment, producing more companion commitments on the same subject at the summit and holding related pre-summit ministerial meetings.
Therefore, at Charlevoix G7 leaders should make more companion commitments on job creation in the clean energy economy, support the work of the International Labour Organization on women and youth, and build on the work done by their labour and innovation ministers who met in Montreal in March to help prepare for the Charlevoix Summit.