Indian policymakers are concerned with the employability of their working-age populations. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) might enhance the employability prospects of the present and near-term labor force. However, if we wish to become a knowledge economy, with highly skilled and dynamic rather than an abundant, cheap labor force, we should revamp our inefficient and inequitable early health and education systems.
Jobs and Development
Newspapers and conferences are abuzz with how machines are taking over the world of work. The predictions about how many jobs will be lost or skills rendered obsolete are often dire; some suggest that more than half of today’s jobs could be lost to automation, for example. The problem with much of this analysis, however, is that it glosses over how machines have no agency. People make decisions about who stays employed and who does not. Rather fixating on the future of work as technology versus humans, it is more useful to think about how and when employers may adopt and adapt to technology, and what that means both for them and for their workers.
Bringing women’s labour force participation up to that of men is essential for growth and development. Yet, unequal participation by males and females - and disparity in their wages -plagues both the formal and informal sectors in India. In particular, the female workforce participation in the organized manufacturing sector presents a dismal picture. Here are four steps that can redress the balance.
Despite being one of the richest countries in Africa, South Africa is characterized by a low labor force participation (LFP) and very high unemployment rates. Excluding the unemployed who are not looking for jobs from the pool of participants, the LFP rate declined from 59.4% in 2001 to 57.2% in 2005, and 54.3% in the final quarter of 2011. Though there has been a slight increase recently, it still remains below most sub-Saharan African countries. Unemployment remains stubbornly high at around 25%. Youth unemployment is even more chronic: the unemployment rate among youth aged 15-24 years exceeds 50%. These low participation and very high unemployment rates have far-reaching implications for economic growth and the sustainability of South Africa’s extensive tax-funded social welfare system.
In most developing countries, well over half the urban workforce is informal. Yet informal workers - and their livelihoods - tend to be ignored or excluded in city planning and local economic development. No amount of social or financial inclusion can make up for exclusion from city plans and economic policies. The urban informal workforce, especially the working poor, need to be recognized, valued and supported as economic agents who contribute to the economy and to society.
Labor reforms have been a key reform agenda in Zambia for quite some time. Experience on the ground shows that labor laws can have a significant impact on poverty and competitiveness. When laws have been loose, workers have been disadvantaged. When the government has tried to tighten the ropes, employers have been hurt. Therefore, finding the right balance is essential.
There is evidence that firm- and industry-level agreements that led to wage premia in CEE countries increased after EU entry. These agreements were negotiated by trade unions with employers or employer associations. But union membership in these countries has been falling since the 1990s. At the same time that union members became less numerous, they managed however to be more effective in negotiating their objectives, especially with regard to the wages of workers covered by collective agreements.
A lot of our thinking in economics is based on a binary typology. The nature of employment systems is one area in which it makes sense to move away from this. A quick look at employment in developing economies (and increasingly in developed economies) shows that standard employment is the exception rather than the rule. This raises the question: how useful is it to use a binary categorization in which the negative or non-standard is, in fact, the standard?
The long-lasting effects of European colonization strategies can be seen in labor regulations in the developing world. In those territories where the Europeans pursued an extractive strategy, they created an economy characterized by monopolies and the exploitation of labor. This situation led to social unrest, and ultimately to the introduction of stringent labor laws in an attempt to buy social peace. In those places that were colonized in order for Europeans to live, more competitive economies were founded.