The world has faced unprecedented challenges in 2020 and had to quickly adapt to new socio-economic needs. In 2021, the global community had to strengthen its capacity to solve such challenges innovatively and collaboratively. To tackle these challenges and build back better, the United Nations called for greater multilateral cooperation. Among the UN priorities 2021, we find the response to COVID-19, the fight towards gender equality defined as “the greatest human rights challenge”, and the need to seize the opportunities of digital technologies while protecting against their growing dangers. On tackling poverty and inequality, UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, specifically referred to a New Social Contract supported by education and digital technology.
Among major global challenges, unemployment is surely on top of the list, and despite gains in education, labour market prospects continue to be generally more unfavourable for young women. Moreover, the imperative of the 2030 Agenda to leave no one behind demands that the poorest, the most vulnerable and discriminated against must be empowered. This includes young people, refugees and internally displaced persons and migrants, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, and those affected by conflicts, disasters and other humanitarian crises. A new generation of inequalities goes beyond income disparity to encompass the knowledge and skills that are needed to succeed in today’s world.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an unexpected leap in the digitalization of learning, working and connecting with others, it has also exposed a serious digital divide that reinforces social and economic disparities. The digital transformation, the fourth industrial revolution, and the potential disruptive impact of technologies on the future of work have created uncertainties, but also unprecedented opportunities. Early observations of post-COVID-19 trends show that the digitalization of production and services, including generation and use of data along value chains, is accelerating.
Moved by a wide global agreement on the most pressing challenges to be tackled, the LKDF wants to do its part by promoting public-private development partnerships to develop demand-oriented digital skills in an inclusive industry, ultimately contributing to generation equality. Therefore, the proposed theme for the LKDForum 2021 is Digital Skills for an Inclusive Future (of Work).