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February 2016

Employers install technology, robots don’t

Siddhartha Raja's picture
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.
 

Getting urbanization right for better jobs in India

Vaidehi Tandel's picture
India’s official urbanization rate is 31%, but by some measures it should be 55%. Changing the mode of governance of de facto urban areas could improve productivity of existing jobs in these areas. But local political pressures often prevent this reclassification. Therefore there need to be new governance forms that lie between the rural-urban classifications. These would allow the investments in infrastructure and amenities along with skill development that would be vital for augmenting employment productivity in these areas.
 

How to get more women working in India

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.
 

Jobs and health in South Africa

Chijioke O. Nwosu's picture
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.

Inclusive cities for informal workers

Martha Chen's picture
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.

Everyone needs tech skills, not just youth

Piotr Lewandowski's picture
We need to make sure that older workers and those already in the work force have the skills to take advantage of technological change. The ongoing debate on how advancing technology impact the demand for labor sets up a dichotomy. The future will be a utopia or a dystopia; as work reduces, society will face either unprecedented abundance or deepening inequality. But these transitions will not occur suddenly, nor will they be binary. And they will happen in very different ways depending on which firms adopt technology, and how workers might be able to respond. It is not just about youth in education; countries need to develop lifelong learning to ensure existing workers do not fall into a skills gap.

Indian labor regulations take small steps in the right direction

Devashish Mitra's picture
India’s outdated and restrictive labor regulations act as a serious constraint on the expansion of formal-sector manufacturing employment. They are an important reason for its large informal sector. Prime Minister Modi’s Make In India campaign cannot be successful without major reforms of India’s labor regulations.  Recent changes to the Industrial Disputes Act and Factories Act at the state level by the Indian state of Rajasthan as well as the Indian Central Government’s move towards a web-based system of self-reporting by firms of compliance with labor regulations are small steps in the right direction. The Central Government’s ambitious plans of bringing about further labor reforms, announced last year, have been halted, hopefully just temporarily, by recent protests by labor unions. This blog provides reasons for why that might be bad news for the creation of good jobs in India.