Targeted household-level economic inclusion programs are on the rise: nearly 100 programs across 43 countries have reached an estimated 14 million people to date, according to the Partnership for Economic Inclusion’s (PEI) 2018 State of the Sector report. These programs provide a “big push” to help the extreme poor and other vulnerable people move into sustainable livelihoods, and can play an important part in poverty reduction and the new “social contract”, as noted in a recent blog.
Jobs and Development
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?
Non-farm household enterprises provide an important opportunity for employment in Tanzania. Agriculture is still the primary economic activity of the country, but the economy is shifting away from it and the number of people employed in this sector has been declining since 2006. At the same time, nearly 850,000 individuals a year enter the labor market seeking gainful employment and non-farm household enterprises are growing rapidly. Across the country, 65.9% of households reported household enterprises as a primary or secondary employment.
Due to the growing importance of non-farm household enterprises, our team conducted a study to understand why household enterprises are not growing and what their major constraints are to productivity gains.
Starting this month, an estimated 9 million women will be able to get behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia after the historic announcement in September last year lifting the ban on women from driving. While international attention has often focused on the driving ban on women in Saudi Arabia, it has often missed the fact that women in several other countries are legally debarred from certain driving jobs. The World Bank’s recently released Women, Business and the Law 2018 report finds that 19 countries around the world legally restrict women from working in the transport sector in the same way as men.
Over the next several decades, Pakistan is poised to become the fourth most populous country in the world. With nearly 53 million active youth (under 25) and a high youth unemployment rate, the challenges of inclusion and empowerment of these young people will continue to grow. Gender disparities also persist with Pakistan having one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the South Asia region.
Connected cities use urban infrastructure and transportation networks to boost access to economic opportunities and job creation. In Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, a project recently analyzed the flows of people within the city’s network using cell phone data. The study identified the most critical links in the urban transportation system that can connect people to jobs and businesses to markets. The project won the World Bank Group’s Fiscal Year 2018 Presidents Award for Excellence for using disruptive technology to collect data.
The disadvantages young women face in the labor market and in entrepreneurship in developing countries are not only substantial and complex, but they quickly compound. A plethora of forces drive gender disparities in youth employment: lack of opportunities to develop the skills demanded by the labor market, family or social pressure dissuading them from entering desirable jobs or male-dominated sectors, a detrimental work environment, or a lack of available services such as childcare might make achieving success an uphill battle. Yet innovative youth employment programs can respond to gender issues. Below are three examples presented in a recent virtual workshop held by the Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) coalition with members of its Impact Portfolio community.
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?
For every software developer in the United States, there are five open jobs. Africa, meanwhile, has the youngest, fastest-growing population on earth, with more people joining the labor force over the next 20 years than the rest of the world combined.
With this idea in mind, and the powerful belief that "brilliance is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not," Andela, founded four years ago, began recruiting recent graduates in Africa with the mission of connecting them to job opportunities in high-tech companies. Today, about 650 developers in Lagos, Nairobi, and Kampala work full-time for over 100 firms spread across 45 cities worldwide.
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.