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How to create jobs fast: From public works and wage subsidies to social services and capital subsidies

David Robalino's picture
It is well-known that markets tend to neglect the provision of many social services. There is, therefore, a role for governments to subsidize the provision of these services. Photo: Sarah Farhat/ World Bank

Creating jobs is not cheap —as I discussed in this post— and it can also be a slow process. It takes time for an idea to become a business plan and eventually a new or larger business. At the same time, in many developing countries, macro and regulatory policies often discourage entrepreneurship and investments. Reforming these policies takes time and having results on the ground even longer.
 
In the meantime, in many countries, there is a sense of urgency to address important labor challenges.  It is not only youth unemployment or inactivity but also the fact that many of those who have a job are in very low productivity, very low-quality jobs. Citizens are becoming frustrated and impatient. What can be done in the short-run?

How much does it cost to create a job?

David Robalino's picture
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A $10 million investment can actually create just a couple hundred direct jobs. / Photo: Nugroho Nurdikiawan Sunjoyo / World Bank (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

Creating more and better jobs is central to our work at the World Bank and a shared goal for virtually all countries —developed and developing alike. But oftentimes the policy debate turns to the cost and effectiveness of programs and projects in creating jobs.
 
As an example, I recently found myself in the middle of a discussion regarding a development project aimed at creating employment:  one of the reviewers objected given that the cost per job created was too high. “More than $20,000 per job,” he said, comparing it to much lower numbers (between $500 and $3,000 per job) usually associated with active labor market programs such as training, job search assistance, wage subsidies, or public works.
 
But what is the rationale behind these numbers?

Using technology to promote youth employment: How to develop digital solutions

Gabriela Aguerrevere's picture
Partners have developed a human-centered approach in developing digital platforms for youth. Photo: Sarah Farhat/ World Bank

How and when can we use technology to design and implement youth employment programs? We should ask ourselves whether investing in digital solutions is worth the time and money before deciding to include a digital component in our projects, because as much as technology can be transformative and help provide solutions, it is both expensive and time-consuming. Furthermore, we need to make sure we fully understand the problem that we are trying to solve.

Accelerating and learning from innovations in youth employment projects

Namita Datta's picture
Rapid progress in digital technology, behavioral economics, evaluation methods, and the connectivity of youth in the developing world generates a stream of real-time insights and opportunities in project design and implementation. (Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank)


Innovations in youth employment programs are critical to addressing this enormous development challenge effectively. Rapid progress in digital technology, behavioral economics, evaluation methods, and the connectivity of youth in the developing world generates a stream of real-time insights and opportunities in project design and implementation. Part of the challenge is the sheer number of projects (just in Egypt, there are over 180 youth employment programs). And even without being aware, projects often innovate out of necessity in response to situations they face on the ground. But innovations need to be tested in different country contexts to be able to make an impact at scale.

Through the new Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) report, our team ventured to curate a few such ongoing innovations as they were being implemented through S4YE’s Impact Portfolio — a group of 19 youth employment projects from different regions being implemented by  different partners across the globe. This network of youth employment practitioners serves as a dynamic learning community and laboratory for improving the jobs outcomes of youth globally.

Can Africa grow its manufacturing sector & create jobs?

Francois Steenkamp's picture
Africa jobs
Since 2008, the share of manufacturing in GDP across Africa has stagnated at around 10%, calling into question if African economies have undergone structural transformation vital to sustained economic growth. Photo: Curt Carnemark / World Bank

Over the past decade and a half, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced rapid economic growth at an average annual rate of 5.5%. But since 2008, the share of manufacturing in GDP across the continent has stagnated at around 10%.  This calls into question as to whether African economies have undergone structural transformation – the reallocation of economic activity across broad sectors -- which is considered vital for sustained economic growth in the long-run.

Tunisia to Pilot Biometric ID Cards for Youth Job Programs

Mohsen Bentouati's picture

In Tunisia, around 40 percent of youth are unemployed, many of them with only a secondary education or less. To help them find jobs, the government is undertaking a comprehensive reform of its active labor market programs. The JKP recently spoke with Mohsen Bentouati—Sub-Director of Employment Programs, Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment—about the planned introduction of a biometric identification card. It will be used to monitor the operation of the programs, the use of services, and to make payments, along with ensuring that the people targeted are those most likely to benefit.

Social Impact Bonds, Youth Employment, and Pensions

David Robalino's picture

Waiting for salvation — a homeless man in London, 02-22-11 @ Chris Schmidt

People are talking about a relatively new financial instrument — called social impact bonds (SIBs) — that can help governments implement social programs without using taxpayers' monies, that is, unless the programs work.  In fact, the Economist magazine recently had an article about SIBs. These bonds were introduced by the British in 2010. New York City, working with Goldman Sachs, launched a SIB last year. The White House is exploring SIBs to finance some Department of Labor programs.  And emerging markets, with the help of international development agencies, are also showing an interest. 

A More Modern, Inclusive Tunisia

Radhi Meddeb's picture

The “Arab Spring,” which began in Tunisia in December 2010, heard calls for jobs, dignity, better governance, and a more inclusive growth model. Over a year later, how is Tunisia doing on the labor front? We spoke with Radhi Meddeb – President of Action et Développement Solidaire (a Tunisian civil society group), Chairman of COMETE Engineering Group, and Chairman of IPEMED (a Euro-Mediterranean think-tank). He cites job creation as the nation’s top priority.