At an OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee meeting focused on digitalization and its impact on the labor market, Justin Addison from the UK Delegation to the OSCE made a statement.
Delivered on: 9 March 2023
Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered:
»UK statement at the OSCE Economic and Environmental Committee meeting on digitalisation and the labour market«
The concept note for this meeting quite rightly highlights the impact of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine on the number of displaced people in Europe. This exodus of talent from Ukraine’s labour market, and the effect on the labour markets of those countries to which Ukrainian migrants have travelled, will have long-lasting implications.
The wanton destruction by Russian forces of critical and civilian infrastructure makes education and training for those in Ukraine more difficult still. Digitalisation may help Ukrainian students and workers safely access training and employment further away from Russian attacks, but in some areas, for those seeking in-person training and employment – and for those roles which can only be done in-person – this will be impossible until Russia withdraws the whole of its forces from Ukraine.
For many young people, the prospects of even remote education are a distant hope, future aspirations crushed by the brutal acts of the Russian invaders. Rather than going to school and preparing themselves for the world of work, children and young people in Ukraine face exploitation, trafficking, filtration, and forced deportation. As UNHCR Assistant Secretary General for Protection said at the PC recently, securing access to education for forcibly displaced persons, including at times of war, is crucial.
For the UK’s part, our £220m support to Ukraine includes £15m to UNICEF in Ukraine to coordinate activities, including education. We are contributing an additional five million pounds to UNICEF Moldova, a package which includes setting up youth centres equipped with laptops and assistive technology to follow education in Ukraine and Moldova.
Looking to Ukraine’s post-war recovery and reconstruction, attention will turn to revitalising the Ukrainian labour market, where digitalisation can play a key role. For example, in the UK, in 2022, the UK Government set up the Digital Skills Council to encourage investment in initiatives focused on upskilling, including digital apprenticeships. And our Skills for Life programme offers free, flexible courses covering, among other areas, software development, digital marketing, and data analytics. These are two examples from which other states may be able to learn.
Finally, the concept note mentions the recent OECD study on the impact of digitalisation on labour markets. We recognise there are a number of benefits to increased automation, with UK companies acknowledging the role of AI in helping them address labour and skills shortages; supporting learning and training; and improving recruitment and HR processes. However, we recognise that these advances will also necessitate an evolution of the key skills and training needed by future workforces across the world.
Before Ukraine is able to take advantage of these new opportunities, we must sustain our efforts to help meet Ukraine’s economic and social needs in 2023. The UK is proud to be hosting – jointly with Ukraine – the Ukraine Recovery Conference in June. We look forward to welcoming you there.