The Middle East and North Africa region have some of the best educated, unemployed people in the world. High-skill university graduates currently make up almost 30 percent of the unemployed pool of labor in MENA, many of them women. In Tunisia, slightly more than half of the working age population is out of work, the vast majority being women. Part of the problem is that, despite some economic growth, not enough new jobs are being created.
Are robots, friends or foes of the future of work? Automation is eliminating some routine jobs but, on the positive side, robots are good partners for workers engaged in tasks that demand analytical, interpersonal, and creative skills, as well as manual physical skills involving dexterity.
A few years ago, Gergana Ivanova became famous in my country, Bulgaria. She became the first woman to serve in the national guards’ unit and the first guardswoman to stand in front of the presidency – not only a great honor but also a dream she has had since she was in first grade. She was featured on the front page of the newspapers and her story sparked debates on talk shows on national TV.
Ivanova’s story, however, exemplified a complex reality: job opportunities are not equal for all and gender barriers are still normal in many countries around the world.
We have been living with digital platforms for about a decade now and their impact on changing how we work is beginning to make itself felt. Even so, it merits much greater attention and investigation, but until now the spotlight has been trained firmly on robots and automation.
Social enterprises have plenty of potential to make concrete impacts on youth employment outcomes. For those not familiar with this model, social enterprises are businesses that conduct commercial, profit-generating activities but focus more on social outcomes than profits. This innovative approach in development has caught the attention of many in the youth employment space, especially over the last five years, partly because it relies less on public sector and donor funding -unlike many conventional programs.
Among Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE)’s Impact Portfolio community of innovative youth employment projects, there are two projects that take the social enterprise model to practice: Digital Divide Data (DDD) and UNICEF’s UPSHIFT program. Each project represents a different way of applying the concept of social enterprise: Digital Divide Data itself is a youth employment project that operates as a social enterprise, while UPSHIFT works on creating young social entrepreneurs.
Technology serves as a key driver of change and opens new avenues to address the world’s most complex challenges. It is changing the nature of work and challenging traditional production patterns. And it is changing the skills that employers seek, how people work and the terms on which they work.
This month, the World Bank Group Advisory Council on Gender and Development will meet for its twice-yearly meeting to discuss the World Bank Group (WBG)’s recent developments and initiatives to close key gaps between men and women. Chaired by Kristalina Georgieva and comprising senior government representatives from client and donor countries, private sector and civil society, the Council is the main external consultative body helping the WBG consider frontier issues and accelerate progress towards gender equality.
Earlier this year, the Council undertook a learning session on the role of technology in promoting gender equality. The discussion mapped out some key challenges in this area.
- Information and Communication Technologies
- Labor and Social Protection
- Social Development
- Sustainable Communities
- digital development
- Human Capital
- Human Capital Project
- Future of Work
- labor force participation
- Female Labor
- financial inclusion
- gender equality
- women's empowerment
- Disruptive Technologies
South Africa has over 4 million migrants, including over 300,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. The latest South African census data estimates that migrants account for over 4% of the country’s population. , according to a new World Bank study.
Many people in Sub-Saharan Africa still work in agriculture; on average, over half of the labor force, and even more in poorer countries and localities. Yet the share of the labor force in agriculture is declining (as is normal in development), leading African leaders and economists to focus on job creation outside agriculture.
Planning for jobs of the future matters. The 200 million young people (those ages 15-24 years old) either looking for jobs or constructing livelihoods now, will increase to 275 million each year by 2030, and 325 million by 2050. Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature?