Employment-intensive investment
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Employment-intensive investment

Around the world more than 1 billion people lack access to roads with nearly 1 billion without access to an all-weather road, 884 million do not have safe drinking water, 1.6 billion have no reliable sources of energy, 2.4 billion lack sanitation facilities and 4 billion are without modern communication services. Infrastructure is the biggest share of public investments and has in recent years become a growing part of development agencies’ portfolio. Such infrastructure investments have the potential to alleviate the poverty of many through the jobs they create. Unfortunately, this potential is often not realized, as many projects are equipment-intensive and frequently rely on foreign contractors. Studies have shown that making greater use of local labour and resources is usually 20% less costly and save as much as 50% of foreign currency requirements, in addition to creating three to five times more jobs. And there is a multiplier effect of indirect benefits of 1.6 to 2.0 more jobs.

In addition with the financial and economic crisis there is even a stronger call for this kind of intervention; it has increasingly been recognized that more needs to be done – the challenge is now to grab this great opportunity and help constituents realize the employment potential therein and thereby an inclusive social and economic development.

Thirty years of experience in over seventy countries, linking employment with infrastructure development, has endowed the Employment Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) with a unique and vast portfolio of both productive employment creation for economic development and social safety nets, as well as environmental measures for natural resources restoration and management. The EIIP provides advice and tools facilitating policy making and standard setting in favour of employment generation, developing entrepreneurship and skills, and creating social dialogue and protection through infrastructure works. This is carried out in both urban and rural areas, during times of crisis and also as part of a longer-term strategy of local development, creating sustainable institutional and economic environments. The employment potential of infrastructure investments is vast but, as many projects traditionally have been equipment-intensive, the potential is often not realized.

The EIIP promotes the orientation of infrastructure investments towards the creation of higher levels of productive employment and improved access to basic goods and services for the poor - in rural and urban areas; as part of reconstruction and recovery in times of crisis seeking to bridge immediate crisis recovery to long-term development work; as well as contributing to longer-term national employment policies, in the following ways:

  • At macro level by providing advice to requesting governments in the design and assessments of employment impact of infrastructure investments and on active labour market and employment policies. At national level it works on the creation of an enabling environment, through awareness raising, the promotion of appropriate policies and legislation, and capacity building.
  • At meso level, the Programme works on institutional development and capacity building; and with the private sector and civil society, to guarantee the successful implementation of employment-intensive infrastructure programmes.
  • At micro level, the Programme works at the municipal or community level through active local-level planning and community contracting to create a maximum number of productive jobs using labour-based technologies. At community level the EIIP works on improving the communities’ capacities for organization and negotiation to execute projects under Decent Working conditions.


  1. Course

    Employment-Intensive Investment for Sustainable Development Course
    28 May - 1 June 2012

    The ultimate aim of the course is to contribute towards the development and effective implementation of jobrich public investment policies and programmes for poverty reduction and sustainable development.

  2. Course

    Innovations in Public Employment Programmes International Course
    ITC, Turin, Italy 1 - 12 October 2012

    The commitment to scalable employment programmes forms part of crisis recovery and development schemes in many countries. This course is intended to help in converting such commitments into viable employment programmes.

  3. Event - Seminar

    14th ILO Regional Seminar for Labour-based Practitioners
    September 12, 2011, Accra International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana

    This seminar is bringing together ministers, practitioners in labour-based works, policy makers, planners, researchers and academics from around the world to discuss employment-intensive policies and practices under the theme “Public Works for Decent Jobs and Poverty Reduction: Policies and Practices”.

Key resources

  1. Report

    Mitigating a Jobs Crisis: Innovations in Public Employment Programmes (IPEP)
    01 July 2010

    Employment Sector - Employment Report No. 6

  2. Publication

    Building Rural Roads
    05 November 2008 - Bangkok

    Rural roads are the last link of the transport network, however, they often form the most important connection in terms of providing access for the rural population. The permanent or seasonal absence of road access is a constraining factor in terms of providing rural communities with essential services such as education, primary health care, water supply, local markets as well as economic opportunities. The availability of such services and opportunities are difficult to sustain without a good quality and well-maintained rural road network, which provides regular and efficient transport access throughout the year.

  3. Publication

    A global programme : investing in employment for poverty reduction and local economic growth 2003-2007
    01 February 2003

    A programme document of the Employment-Intensive Investment Branch

  4. Training material

    Employment-Intensive Infrastructure Programmes: Capacity building for contracting in the construction Sector
    01 January 1999

    Provides a set of guidelines for programmes which aim to integrate cost-effective employment-intensive approaches into infrastructure works while respecting basic labour standards and working conditions.

  5. Training material

    Employment-intensive infrastructure programmes : labour policies and practices
    01 February 1998

    Based on studies and the experience of ILO technical cooperation projects. Includes recommendations for government ministries, and workers’ and employers’ organizations.

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