2nd Workshop on Integrating labour and skills into global value chains

25-26th April 2013

The concept of global value chains has been developed to explore the changing nature of the insertion of companies and local economies in global production and distribution networks. The extent to which this process has involved a range of stakeholders (see for example, the University of Manchester/Brooks World Poverty Institute project on ‘Capturing the Gains’) and can ultimately enable more sustainable and inclusive growth is debated. The aim of this workshop is to bring together a range of perspectives on labour as an active participant in global value chains, focussing on the role of social institutions and local actors in processes of economic and social upgrading. The objective is to integrate an understanding of social institutions and the emerging system of multilevel governance of the employment relationship with debates on the changing international organisation of production and distribution. The focus is on areas in which institutions and local actors can have a distinctive impact: on the quality of work, skills and on capacity for innovation.

Whilst intra- and inter-firm relations affect work organisation and employment practices at the point of production, company strategies and employment relations are also constrained and influenced by national regulatory frameworks and nationally-based patterns of inter-firm cooperation and coordination. National business systems, which include institutions supporting innovation and skill formation exert a significant impact on the supply of skills, job design and work organisation characteristics. This is the context in which local actors – trade unions, business organisations, economic policy-makers and non-governmental organisations – can make interventions to enhance the quality of labour and work, contributing to the capacity of companies and regions to innovate and upgrade quality.

Invite papers will contribute to debate on these questions:

  • What is the potential for local actors to influence outcomes in terms of blocking the adoption of low road paths to economic development and supporting skill formation and capacity for innovation? 
  • What is the role of private interests and public policy in shaping and supporting the up-skilling and learning of the labour force as well as the upgrading and increasing innovative capabilities of firms, regions and countries?
  • How can international coordination between labour representatives, and with other stakeholders, strengthen the capacity for labour upgrading?

The workshop will gather a number of high profile national and international speakers from different disciplinary backgrounds to provide a focus for intellectual debate. Sessions will be organised to maximise discussion and the exchange of ideas.