Global ILO Knowledge-Sharing Workshop brings partner countries together for “Strengthening the Impact on Employment of Sectoral and Trade Policies”

Article | 15 May 2019
Delegates from the nine countries of the STRENGTHEN project (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Morocco, Myanmar, Philippines, and Rwanda) gathered in Geneva this week for a 2-day knowledge-sharing workshop that aimed to harvest and reflect on lessons from this innovative global initiative.

In his welcome speech, Mr. Sangheon Lee (Director of the ILO’s Employment Policy Department) said: “The STRENGTHEN project’s work on creating coherence between trade policies and national employment objectives stems from an important part of the ILO’s mandate”.

This project has supported country partners in their work to not only create more jobs but to also stimulate shifts of labour demand from low- to high-productivity sectors. It has done this by working with country partners to better understand the impact of both trade and sectoral policies and their potential to generate more and better jobs across the labour force, especially for those in disadvantaged groups.

The workshop provided partner-country representatives with expert input on a number of issues, and gave them the opportunity to share and reflect on their own experiences during STRENGTHEN’S implementation.

The workshop’s programme opened with a high-level panel discussion on “Supporting the sectoral and trade dimensions of National Employment Policies”, where participants heard the views of representatives from the ILO’s traditional tripartite partners as well as other public and private agencies.
Participants spent several sessions considering different employment measurement and impact assessment methodologies. In these sessions, participants benefited from presentations and discussions with technical experts on subjects such as Compact CGE models of Employment; Qualitative and Mixed Methods; Local Multipliers; and Spotting Export Potential and Employment Implications.

The workshop dedicated one session to the approach called TRAVERA (Trade and Value Chains in Employment-Rich Activities), which has been implemented within the STRENGTHEN project. This session provided an overview of the TRAVERA approach, its methods and tools, a case study of Benin and general findings based on data collected using the TRAVERA survey [hyperlink to TRAVERA presentations and video. Another workshop session highlighted sector-related cases, examining the impact assessment of sectoral policies.

The workshop also allowed delegates to spend time in their country teams, discussing and reflecting together on questions such as how to involve stakeholders in strategic employment creation, which models to use or adapt and how to do so, what the implications are of findings to policy-making and planning; and what opportunities there might be for further collaboration.

Some of the key observations to emerge through this event was around the need for good employment creation indicators, and the possibility of innovation in this field. Following a presentation from the Rwandan team on key lessons and their idea to track how employment shifts between sectors using regular labour force survey data, David Cheong (STRENGTHEN project co-manager, ILO Geneva) mentioned that “if we have several years of good data, we could apply Markov chain techniques to observe employment transitions from one sector to another. That would be truly innovative”.

There were several important issues that emerged from the workshop’s discussions. One issue was on how to set indicators for employment monitoring and evaluation and how to align impact assessment of sectoral and trade policies to these indicators. Another critical issue was how to obtain political support and endorsement for mainstreaming employment indicators in the monitoring and evaluation of sectoral and trade policies. As the capacity to monitor employment indicators lay with technical institutions, it was pointed out that “a bridge needs to be built between politicians and experts”.

As the event drew to a close on Wednesday, Maikel Lieuw-Kie-Song (STRENGTHEN project co-manager, ILO Geneva), said “this workshop has been important and uplifting. The dedication and commitment shown during the workshop have given a good sense of the project’s importance and relevance”.

The STRENGTHEN project is a joint initiative of the ILO and EU and is implemented with the financial support of the Commission's Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development.

A summary report workshop will be made available soon.