Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Ron Dublin-Collins (left) and Mr. Johansen. SKNIS Photo.

Thursday’s staging of the Third Annual National Conference on Labour in St. Kitts and Nevis, held at the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) and attended by tripartite stakeholders representing employers, workers, and the government, had special meaning as it falls within the Ministry of Labour’s commemoration of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) 100th Anniversary.

“There are strong cultural and psychological reasons for working, including making a contribution to our community, personal dignity, and self-worth,” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs, Ron Dublin-Collins, said. “Although there are many fundamental reasons why persons need to work, the problem increasingly lies in the fact that our economies are not generating sufficient jobs.”

Deputy Director of the ILO Caribbean Office, Lans Johansen, also participated in the conference.

The permanent secretary, reflecting on the conference’s theme “The Future of Work,” noted everyone has the right to work — a right in keeping with the ILO’s primary goal of promoting full employment and decent work — and added the way persons work and live is evolving in light of increased digital transformation, globalization and demographic changes, which are reshaping the national work landscape.

“The human workforce will need to develop a level of comfort and acceptance for how man and machine can collaborate using the best that both bring to the workplace,” he said. “The future of work offers unparalleled opportunities but also significant challenges. It is crucial that policies help workers and societies at large to manage the transition with the least possible disruption, while maximizing potential benefits.”

Training, or in some cases retraining, will help keep those workers up-to-date with the latest technology and work methods.

“Our people need to be prepared, not tomorrow but today,” the permanent secretary said, while challenging local tertiary institutions to do more to address the demand for skilled workers. He also called on organizations to structure work in a way that leads to greater efficiencies.

“The future looks good to each one of us if we position ourselves, our companies, our families to advance into this exciting future that is ahead of us,” he said, expressing confidence continued interaction and honest exchanges by all stakeholders will help to keep St. Kitts and Nevis on the right path as it relates to the world of work.

Presentations on “The Future of Work” were made by the St. Kitts Teachers’ Union, the Building and Contractors Association, and the Ministry of Trade. Technology specialist Nijoe Farrell also presented to the delegates on the technological changes in the workplace.

The delegates were then divided into groups to consider topics such as The CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) and Implications for the Future of Work; How Our Economy Can Benefit from Ongoing Technological Transformation; The Main Changes Taking Place in the World of Work in Our Federation; and What Are the Skills Most Likely to be in Demand in the Future.