A discussion about the value of interdisciplinarity with Jean Claude El Khazen, a participant and labour inspector from Lebanon attending the Decent Work for Domestic Workers course
During the final days of the Decent Work for Domestic Workers course, I sat down with Jean Claude El Khazen. A seasoned decent work advocate, he has been working as a labour inspector at the Ministry of Labour in Lebanon since 2009.
Jean Claude had the opportunity to come to the International Training Centre of the ILO on numerous occasions. Lebanon’s Ministry of Labour offered him scholarships to come in 2010, 2012, and again today.
There has been increasing recognition, nationally and internationally, of the economic and social contribution made by domestic workers and of the need to improve their living and working conditions. Jean Claude attended the Decent Work for Domestic Workers course, which aims to promote inter-regional dialogue among the different actors involved in the promotion of decent work for domestic workers, and to enhance institutional capacities to ensure that they are adequately protected.
Participating in the course is a valuable asset for his work, particularly for navigating employer-employee relations: “It’s very important for us to know how we must try and resolve the issues that come about in these relationships. These dynamics have many specificities and don’t have the same characteristics as other working relations in industrial or commercial fields.”
Domestic work is a unique domain, requiring specific skills. Since Jean Claude has spent about 10 years in this field, he has experienced many developments.
“The Ministry of Labour has grown and new departments were established,” he states. “We have made many necessary changes to keep up with industrial and commercial fields that are constantly evolving. If there is no evolution, we find ourselves moving backwards,” he explains.
For Jean Claude, these trainings are of utmost value and he owes the successes in his work to the knowledge gained at the Centre. “The trainings are key for the work of the public office holders because we rarely have other trainings,” he declares. “The main trainings are the ones held here at the ITCILO. Due to these trainings, we find ourselves capable of improving our work in the public sector,” he assures.
Although Jean Claude is fully dedicated to his work, he is always looking for ways to intellectually challenge himself. His many trainings at the Centre give evidence to this, however it does not stop here.
“I started off as an engineer,” he begins, “then I completed my Masters in Biotechnology and another in Biodiversity. Later, I pursued a Masters in Law and a Masters in Public Planning and Management.”
His extensive qualifications and interdisciplinary approach have provided him with a versatile skill set to apply in his work. He continues onwards on this quest for learning.
If we have a wide variety of specializations, we are capable of better resolving and responding to people’s needs.
“The people with whom we collaborate at the Ministry (i.e. citizens and workers from different fields) prefer to work with an employee who has a diverse educational background,” he shares.
Returning to the Centre for the third time, it feels like a second home for Jean Claude. He thrives in Turin, both culturally and intellectually.
He believes Italy to be the most beautiful country he has ever visited and praises Turin for its many historical sights. But, he particularly remembers the Italians: “The people are kind and helpful. Although I do not speak Italian, if I ever need something, I can ask locals on the street and I can tell they’re happy to help.”
When it comes to the Centre, it’s no different: “[it’s] a space for cultivating change between different people who come from around the world.”
We exchange our cultures and discover new countries that we had never heard of before. It’s a multicultural Centre, in which we can meet new people who come from everywhere.
Since he has frequently returned to the Centre, each training comes along with new colleagues. Regardless of the distance, Jean Claude has maintained close contact with these friends from around the globe. A true step towards international cooperation and mutual understanding.