All the congress themes of ITUC are important. However, STTK, the Finnish confederation of professionals, thinks that education must have a stronger presence on ITUC’s agenda. Education is the best way to support people’s opportunities to build their lives and promote their careers. It can help to promote sustainable development and equitable working life.
Good basic and vocational education is a solid foundation for increasing employment and eradicating poverty.
Education enhances democracy and civil rights. Literate, competent people are more prepared to look after their rights. Education, women’s literacy in particular, is also a central way to affect the excessive population growth.
The rapid technological development and competitiveness need educated employees. People who can learn new things and make progress. When technologies are quickly becoming outdated, life-long learning must be possible to all employees.
Sustainable development requires competence. STTK wants to promote sustainable development economically, socially and ecologically. We are living in a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Sixty-five percent of the world’s population are living in great need, 14 % live in rich countries like Finland, and the gap is growing constantly.
The unequal distribution of economic growth, and the concentration of assets on few do not stimulate growth in poor countries nor give hope to starving people. We must enhance politics that strives to decrease inequality.
There is a need for strong political leaders who are committed to decisions with which environmental problems can be alleviated. We also need citizens who support these decisions. We need new kinds of production and we need to develop old production methods to be in line with sustainable development.
Working life must be developed so that the transition to production that is in line with sustainable development falls equally on employees who will have to change duties and occupations. A fair transition is the key term.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor can we change over to sustainable development by a snap of fingers. We need long-term strategies of sustainable development.
We need education, so that people get enough information to support their activities. Furthermore, we need practical cooperation structures. The European social dialogue model is well suited to reform working life along the lines of sustainable development. The social dialogue can help us solve problems better and manage the fast structural changes of working life.
STTK President Antti Palolas’ speech in the ITUC Congress in Berlin 20.5.2014