By Patricia O’ Donovan, Director, International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin
“When I went back to work, I gathered together officials from many Ministries, joined three working parties on law-making, helped draft a Maritime Labour Act and got promoted. Now I hope that the legislation I have worked on will finally be presented to Parliament with high-quality legal back-up and, most importantly, will conform to international labour standards.”
These words are from Suruswadee Jaimsuwan, Legal Officer at the Ministry of Labour of Thailand, recently promoted to assist the Deputy Director of her department. She was one of around 4,500 participants who come every year to the Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ILO), located in Turin, Italy.
in addition, around 160 students come every year to complete a Masters or Postgraduate programme. Through these programmes, the Turin School of Development enables the Turin Centre to contribute to the preparation of future experts and leaders dealing with the economic and social challenges of the 21st century.
I have been managing the ILO’s Training Centre in Turin for the past two years and I have met project officers, ministers, entrepreneurs, parliamentarians, researchers, lawyers, activists, trade unionists and employees from all continents with diverse backgrounds, ages and work lives.
They all come here to learn and exchange experiences and – hopefully – they all go back with tools, resources, knowledge and ideas which will enable them to leave a footprint on, play a part in, or simply get things moving in their field.
Ultimately, some will set up local economic development projects, while others will assist in drafting national labour policies and legislation or get involved in organizing global campaigns promoting labour rights, safer workplaces or sustainable investments.
Trickling knowledge down… and up
I often ask myself: “we train these women and men to make a difference outside the classroom – but do we also make a difference out there?”
For most of our students, their time at the Turin campus is their first, and sometimes only, contact with the ILO. I see this as a great opportunity to broaden the knowledge and understanding of the role of the ILO beyond our traditional target groups of labour ministries, employers’ and workers’ organizations.
Meeting and discussing with the participants about their work and life experiences, as well as their hopes for the future, present a unique channel to understanding how the policies and tools of the ILO can be improved and made more relevant to the working lives of men and women from so many different countries and backgrounds.
Learning, training and knowledge-sharing is not just for the classroom – it is meant to be at the heart of everything we do.