Global Labor Market Conference: A Unique Gathering of Influential Minds in Addressing Labor Challenges

On December 13–14, Saudi Arabia set the stage for a groundbreaking event: the Global Labor Market Conference (GLMC). Hosted in Riyadh by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (MHRSD), this annual gathering wasn’t just another conference; it was the epicenter where the world’s labor market thought leaders converged to unravel innovative solutions and gain profound insights into navigating the uncertainties that lie ahead.

Driven by its belief that global labor market challenges required the collaboration of all stakeholders, this solution-oriented platform gathered an extremely diverse and influential collection of thought leaders. To this end, the event featured government officials, policymakers, representatives of multinational organizations, labor leaders, academics, artificial intelligence experts, business leaders, and more.

The Director of the International Labor Organization (ILO), General Gilbert Houngbo, delivered a highly anticipated keynote speech regarding the path forward for young people in labor markets. Director-General Houngbo emphasized the stakes for young people, sharing a number of data points: the global youth unemployment rate exceeds 3 times that of adults; more than 3 out of 4 young people are informally employed; 1 in 3 youth are working yet still living in poverty. Imploring the audience, Director-General Houngbo declared, “This cannot be the statistical reality of the future.” 

Among possible solutions, Director-General Houngbo called for investments in internet infrastructure, policies to encourage inclusivity, a focus on digital literacy, and the potential of the green and blue economies, which by 2030 could create up to 8.4 million new jobs for young people. Director-General Houngbo concluded with a message addressed directly to youth, calling on young people to “take the lead, to actively participate in your communities and make your voices heard in public forums, and on the issues that you care about and the changes you want to see, the future we know belongs to you.”

In addition to Director General Houngbo, the conference provided an exceptional lineup of approximately 150 speakers, including NEOM CEO Nadhmi Al-Nasr, former Italian PM Matteo Renzi, Greek Minister of Labor Adonis Georgiadis, and Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed bin Aqil Al-Khateeb. 

The event was organized around eight broad themes: global labor market catalysts, skills & productivity conundrums, labor market makeovers, work for all, and AI needs people. The labor market re-engineered, the right way to (de)regulate, and the future-proofed organization.

Some of the more specific topics that were discussed inside of these broad themes included the impact of AI, demographic changes, inclusive workplaces, migration trends, debates on regulation, climate change, upskilling, talent gaps, talent retention, shifting worker expectations, changing labor markets, the future of work, and workplace culture.

With its impressive program, star-studded speakers, and over 2,000 participants from over 40 countries, the conference proved to be the first of its kind on the topic of global labor markets. Following a successful two days, H.E. Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, Minister of MHRSD, closed the inaugural GLMC by reflecting on its success and announcing that the GLMC will reconvene as an annual event.

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