Introducing labour and social security laws to university students in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
07 March 2023
The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the ILO hold symposium on introducing labour and social security laws into university teaching curricula.
Erbil, Kurdistan Region of Iraq (ILO News) The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, together with the International Labour Organization, held a symposium in Erbil on Monday (March 6) to discuss the introduction of labour and social security laws into university curricula.
The event brought together representatives from the government, Members of Parliament, employers' and workers' organizations, key policymakers, academics and representatives of universities, career development centres and several other entities.
It included panel discussions on the changing outlook and prospects of young graduates towards employment in the private sector and some of the key obstacles and challenges in this regards. Discussions also highlighted the importance of introducing the labour and social security laws into university curricula and the modalities and mechanisms needed to ensure these topics are taught in higher education.
“Access to job opportunities and developing the capacities of our youth is an important national issue," said Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Aram Mohammad Qadir. "We, at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, are doing our utmost to develop the capacity of our youth and university graduates, so they can compete for job opportunities. We are currently working to better align the content of the curricula with the needs of the labour market, ensuring they are relevant to the needed skills of the labour market."
“This event is important as coordination between the two ministries concerning the labour and social security laws is of great importance and we have a Memorandum of Understanding between the two ministries in this regard," said Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Affairs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Zakia Syed Saleh. "We invite all partners involved to strengthen their coordination, especially in implementing these policies and for the ILO to continue to provide its specialised technical support, so we can ensure that workers in the private sector and those who are self-employed are well protected.”
Introducing the laws to graduates would allow students to understand the benefits of social security and cultivate broader support for social security coverage among young workers as well as the wider public.
The discussions are part of broader efforts to extend social security coverage, strengthen legal protections and guarantees for workers and to improve the business environment.
With the support of the European Union, the ILO has been working with its tripartite constituents - government, employer, and worker representatives – as well as parliamentarians, to review the draft retirement and social security law. Key improvements under the draft law include extending coverage to workers in the informal sector, self-employed, and business owners. It also introduces new benefits to all workers in the private sector, both formal and informal, such as those related to maternity and unemployment.
It has also provided technical support in the review of the Labour Law to ensure the law meets international standards and best practices. The law was approved by parliament recently.
“We commend the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs for the recent development in relation to parliament’s approval of the labour law, which seeks to protect workers and enhance working conditions particularly for women and youth and address child labour, including its worst forms,” said ILO Country Coordinator for Iraq Maha Kattaa. “Introducing the labour law and social security law into university curricula is an excellent step in enhancing the awareness of young graduates on their rights in the world of work” Kattaa added.
The ILO will provide technical support to the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in simplifying the two laws in a booklet to be used as learning material for students. It will also support training university lecturers in conducting sessions on labour and social security laws and rights.