Mechanical and electrical engineering sector

Mechanical and electrical engineering encompasses the manufacture and repairing of a diverse range of electrical and electronic products, such as engines, electrical products, consumer electronics, computers, mobile phones and others. 

Mechanical Engineering

Volatility and competitiveness have increased in the mechanical engineering sector due to globalization and the international integration of markets. Moreover, new technologies such as 3D printing are expected to have a transformative effect on this sector.

Electronics Industry

Computers and small electronic products such as smartphones have become ubiquitous in modern life. This demand for electronics is fuelling a competitive and dynamic global electronics industry employing approximately 18 million people. Brand firms hold an influential position in the electronics supply chain as they subcontract and outsource a considerable amount of their manufacturing activities and rely on a range of suppliers.

Recent work

In December 2014, the ILO held a Global Dialogue Forum on the Adaptability of Companies to Deal with Fluctuating Demands and the Incidence of Temporary and Other Forms of Employment in Electronics. The points of consensus reflected on the reality of the dynamic electronics industry with its short product lifecycles, and the corresponding challenges encountered by employers and employees.

Current focus

The ILO has recently been focusing its attention on the fastest growing global waste stream, namely electrical and electronic waste (e-waste). E-waste contains hazardous elements, which makes it harmful to human health and the environment, as well as complex to recycle or dispose of. E-waste workers operate mainly in the informal economy and are often inadequately protected from the threat of hazardous substances. Two publications, “The global impact of e-waste: Addressing the challenge” (2012) and “Tackling informality in e-waste management: The potential of cooperative enterprises” (2014), provide insights into this sector and seek to address labour challenges in e-waste recycling.