Employment promotion in South Asia

A Woman at a Photography and Studio Designing Workshop in Kanyakumari, India. © Kutty V.

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For much of the 2000s India experienced rapid economic growth, however this progress was not fully reflected in labour market improvements. While there has been some structural transformation, reflected by the movement of people out of agriculture, the vast majority of workers continue to have informal jobs. Moreover, many of new formal sector jobs do not offer access to employment benefits or social security.

India has the largest youth population in the world, meaning that youth unemployment and underemployment are critical challenges. In 2011-12, the youth unemployment rate stood at 10.7 per cent, but reached 18.8 per cent for urban women aged 20-24.

Job creation and inclusive growth are therefore critical priorities, both in India and across the region. The Government of India has placed considerable emphasis on improving employment, skills development, and services for jobseekers, such as the National Career Service.

In line with India’s Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) 2013-17, the ILO provides technical assistance to support the development and implementation of policies and programmes linked to employment and employment creation, particularly in rural areas. This work includes support for the Government’s Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme (MGNREGS).

Linked to the DWCP, the ILO also undertakes policy-oriented research on employment issues. This includes research into female labour force participation, wage trends, and manufacturing as a driver of job creation and inclusive growth.

The ILO provides technical advisory services on employment promotion in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This includes support for the creation and implementation of employment policies, policy-oriented research and capacity building. 

To promote research on employment issues in South Asia, the ILO supports the South Asia Network on Employment and Social Protection for Inclusive Growth (SARNET).

Key resources

  1. Female Labour Force Participation in India and Beyond- Sher Verick and Ruchika Chaudhry

    This paper reviews the literature on female labour force participation and women’s employment, with the aim of better understanding the drivers of labour market outcomes. This paper also attempts to explore the situation of women globally and in South Asia, through an examination of long-term trends of female employment. It goes further, explaining the reasons for the falling participation of women in the Indian labour market.

  2. An assessment of the labour statistics system in India- T.S. Papola

    The assessment describes in detail the sources and contents of labour statistics in India with a view to identifying gaps with respect to the requirements of various users, the national policy-makers, researchers and international organizations.

  3. World Employment and Social Outlook - Trends 2016

    The World Employment and Social Outlook – Trends 2016 is a report which includes a forecast of global unemployment levels and explains the factors behind this trend, including continuing inequality and falling wage shares.