Walking my dog recently, early on a dark January morning, I noticed a light from a window on the ground floor of the school near my home. I took a peek inside. Somebody was preparing the classroom for a technology education lesson, or what we call in this part of the world a “labor lesson.”
I am not nostalgic by nature, but the sight of the classroom took my mind back to the Moldova of the mid-1980s. That’s when I used to attend such classes.
Whether matching drivers with riders or landlords with lodgers, digital platforms like Uber and AirBnB push the marginal cost of matching supply and demand to an unprecedented low. Large infrastructure projects like China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative - which aims at more closely linking the two ends of Eurasia, as well as Africa and Oceania - could create an opportunity to alter the future of Central Asia’s agriculture,if food supply and demand can be matched more efficiently.
Once the image is projected, one of the students “writes” on the surface of the classroom wall – as he would on the computer screen – using customized software called CamTouch, which allows the user to turn any surface into an interactive “smartboard”. The student also selects an icon and virtually opens a document with the help of a special stylus.
The 2018 World Cup brought fame to the Croatian team, with many fans around the world – including the author of this blog - rooting for the team in white-and-red checkerboard jerseys. For the players on the Croatian national team, the success they found on the field should also pay off financially, thanks to prize money, higher pay, and advertising revenues.
But the stories of the top-earning soccer stars living a glamorous life of wealth tend to make us forget that most athletes are not wealthy enough to retire when their careers end and find themselves facing the same challenges as everyone else looking to change professions.
On 11 October 2018, the World Bank launched its Human Capital Index, which quantifies the contribution of health and education to the productivity of the next generation of workers. The Index is part of the Human Capital Project, a global effort to accelerate more and better investments in people. Belarus didn’t participate in the Index this year.
Back in 1440, King Henry VI of England founded a college for poor scholars, providing a free education for boys whose families couldn’t afford to pay. At that time, the young students learned to read and write so that they could later work as administrators in the royal court.
A few centuries later, in 1977, I became one of “King Henry’s scholars”. I’m not working for a king, of course, but I recognize how lucky I am to have benefited from Henry’s medieval investment in human capital. One could perhaps call him a “very early adopter”.
These days, investing in people makes more economic sense than ever. Human capital – the knowledge, skills, and health that people accumulate throughout their lives – accounts for up to 68% of a country’s overall wealth, on average. In the case of Belarus, where I now live, the share of human capital in the country’s total wealth is somewhat lower, at 49.2%.
Celebrating his 60th birthday recently, my father chatted with me about his career and getting his first job. He graduated as an engineer in the 1970s in Austria and faced very different employment opportunities to those I faced some decades later. There were five construction firms, all just around the corner from his home, to which he could apply for a job at that time.
When I finished graduate school in 2016, I applied for work with organizations in five different countries around the world. Suffice to say, the labor market in which my generation is competing is vastly different and far more globalized than the one my dad faced.
What exactly is procurement, you may ask? If you google the word, you’ll likely find several different definitions.
Essentially, procurement is about buying things. That sounds quite simple, of course, but it becomes much more complicated at the level of government buying, especially when complex risks and variables must also be considered. So, is there a way to simplify government procurement?
Despite recent stability in economic growth in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with 3.2% growth projected for 2018, the country continues to experience an elevated level of unemployment, especially among young people.
To help address these alarming statistics, the governments in Bosnia and Herzegovina are investing substantial resources in promoting employment opportunities. These services comprise mostly job intermediation, such as counseling or job matching, and financial incentives to employers when they hire registered unemployed people. But given the magnitude and persistence of the unemployment problem, there must be other, more effective approaches that could be deployed to complement ongoing practices. One such approach is outsourcing selected employment services to private job brokers.
The World Bank’s recently completed Systematic Country Diagnostic highlights Romania’s vulnerability to natural disasters. Over the years, floods, droughts and earthquakes have cost the country thousands of casualties and billions of euros in damages to physical infrastructure. They have hurt the economy’s productive capacity and disproportionately affected the poor.
A vulnerable country
Countries around the world are already seeing evidence of the damaging impact of climate change, which is making past growth patterns unsustainable and reversing progress made on poverty reduction and shared prosperity.
One of my favorite memories from the past summer was discovering Saranda, located in the southern part of the ‘Albanian Riviera.’ I was fascinated by the city’s beautiful location - right on the Ionian Sea coast, with its deep blue waters and with the island of Corfu (Greece) visible on the horizon. I was far from being the only visitor as Saranda is full of people during the summer. In fact, while the usual population is around 35,000, in July and August, this figure can swell with an influx of tourists. During 2016, Saranda registered over 700,000 visitors.
Saranda is not alone in this regard. Over the past years in Albania, tourism has significantly increased, especially in places like Ksamil, Saranda, and Durres. From August 2017 to August 2018, according to the national statistical office, Albania hosted 2.1 million visitors - a 16.8% increase compared to the previous year. And most of these tourists came for the sun and beaches in the summer. These figures are expected to continue to grow in the coming years. On World Tourism Day, the Ministry of Tourism and Environment even indicated that Albania aims to attract 10 million tourists by 2025!