The results from the Program for international Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 show that Vietnam’s general education system is more successful than systems in many wealthier countries in providing students with strong basic cognitive skills such as reading literacy and numeracy. Participating for the first time in PISA, Vietnam’s 15 year-olds perform on par with their peers in Germany and Austria and better than those in two thirds of participating countries.
This is the second in the series of papers from graduates on the job market this year.
It’s a formidable task to describe the labor market in South Asia. The region’s eight countries vary widely in size, ranging from less than one million people each in Bhutan and Maldives to 1.2 billion people- about three quarters of South Asia’s population- in India. There is also diversity in stages of development, economic structures, social and cultural features. On the whole the economies of the eight countries in the region are essentially rural as well as agricultural and still unable to capture informal production activities of many individuals.
South Asian countries will add 1 million to 1.2 million new entrants to the labor force every month for the next two decades. They will further contribute about 40 percent of the total new entrants to the global working age (15-64) population. It goes without saying that creation of productive jobs (with jobs defined to include all wage work and self employment) will be the most dependable way out of extreme poverty for the South Asian region that is home to more than forty percent of the world’s absolute poor. According to an United Nations survey, the region’s current population of 1.65 billion will increase 25 percent by 2030 and 40 percent by 2050. Given the regions’ demographic dividend in terms of a youthful population, the working age population is projected to increase even more – 35 percent by 2030 and by 50 percent by 2050.
Among the five of the large countries in the region, employment growth since 2000 was highest in Pakistan followed by Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. The total employment in South Asia (excluding Afghanistan and Bhutan) rose from 473 million in 2000 to 568 million in 2010, creating an average of just under 800,000 new jobs a month. Besides, in all countries except Maldives and Sri Lanka, the largest share of the employed are the low end self –employed (involved in small scale enterprises with no more than five workers/family enterprise workers). Nearly a third of workers in India and a fifth of workers in Bangladesh and Pakistan are casual laborers (who incidentally have the highest poverty rates). Regular wage or salaried workers represent a fifth or less of the total employment. In the region as a whole, 55 percent of the 1.04 billion working age population is employed.
Thus, with over 490 million young people aspiring to join the work force in the region, there is a dire need to identify major challenges and put in place effective policies that can enable productive absorption of the young in high quality jobs.
Public knowledge about India's ambitious Employment Guarantee Scheme is low in one of India's poorest states, Bihar, where participation is also unusually low. Is the solution simply to tell people their rights? Or does their lack of knowledge reflect deeper problems of poor people's agency and an unresponsive supply side?
A critical element in India’s 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) is the generation of productive and gainful employment on a sufficient scale. The aim of such planning is to systematically absorb the growing working population in the unorganized sector of an expanding economy. This sector contributes about sixty percent of the country’s GDP. Infact, it employs workers in micro enterprises, unpaid family work, casual labor and home based work on a mammoth scale. In addition, it also absorbs migrant laborers, farmers, artisans and more importantly out of school rural youth.
In the last decade, the Indian economy has witnessed a structural transformation from agricultural activities to manufacturing and services oriented activities. A distinct feature of this transition has been a substantial decline in the absolute number of people employed in agriculture. However, according to the Planning Commission, a crucial factor in the migration of the labor force from rural to urban areas is its temporary nature and occurrence only in lean agricultural seasons. Besides, this large chunk of labor force is not available to participate in the manufacturing or the services oriented activities due to severe lack of appropriate skill sets. According to the Commission, the latter reflects rural distress, driven by the fact, that more than eighty percent of India’s farming households are small and marginal, tilling only less than 2.5 acres of land.
Halima Khatun never had to worry about putting food on the table when her husband was alive. Her husband had a business which provided enough for their four children and they lived fairly contented till seven years ago, when her husband suddenly passed away.
As the years went by, one by one the children married, moved out and had their own family to take care of. Halima was left alone, fending for herself, and took up weaving mats and embroidery to help get by. But then her daughter, who used to work at a garments factory in the city after her divorce, suddenly fell sick and unable to work, she moved back in with her four-year old son. Halima was thrown into utter desperation and knew not how to make ends meet.
How we support agribusiness and handicrafts sector in Upper Egypt
Last week I met 35 entrepreneurs from Assyut, Aswan, Beni Seouf, Cairo, Fayoum, Giza, Luxor , Minya, Qena, Sharkeyya, Sohag. Some of these names aren’t familiar and there is a reason for that…
They had just been awarded 25,000 dollars each through the Egypt Development Marketplace (DM) competition because their businesses have potential to grow, and create jobs for some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Upper Egypt.
I was struck by the new innovative ideas for example using palm trees to produce handicrafts and high quality affordable furniture. But also by the revival of local industries such as the ancient Upper Egyptian carpet weaving produced by ferka, not only generating income for marginalized girls and women, but also renewing pride in Egypt’s remarkable culture and heritage. Whether producing local honey, or adding value to products through food processing of tomato paste, olive oil or dairy products specifically for low-income families, these businesses had deserved their cash reward.
- Upper Egypt
- Urban Development
- Private Sector Development
- Labor and Social Protection
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Financial Sector
- Agriculture and Rural Development
- Middle East and North Africa
- Egypt, Arab Republic of
“Young people ought not to be idle,” quipped Margaret Thatcher, “It is very bad for them.” That was twenty years ago. With over a million youth currently out of work in Britain today – 21% of the population – her words remain unfortunately prophetic. And it’s not just industrial countries that are in a funk. The “arc of unemployment” does not discriminate: it cuts across southern Europe through the Middle East to South Asia. Almost half of the world’s young people live along this arc, and it is a demographic dividend that is quickly becoming a demographic liability.
Consider South Asia: a region home to the largest proportion of unemployed and inactive youth in the developing world, a whopping 31%. Many attribute this to social norms, as many South Asian women do not work for cultural reasons. But with a growing middle class, gender norms are rapidly evolving.
In 2010, I wrote a blog on the situation of the H1-B visas. At that time, the slow recovery of the US economy was affecting the hiring of high-skilled immigrants. Now, that the U.S.