A new report from the International Labour Office says that despite the fact that more people are employed today than ever before, half the world’s workers live below US$2.00 a day, unable to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The reason is not for lack of jobs but the lack of productive jobs. ILO TV explains:
In downtown New Delhi, the Hind diesel workshop is crowded with customers who know a good mechanic when they see one. Raj Sodi and her partner Krishna can fix a motorcycle as well as any man. It’s an unusual job for a woman, but they are happy to have found productive work in the informal sector after 20 years of living below the poverty line.
According to a new report from the International Labour Organization or ILO, more than half the world’s workers live on less than 2 US dollars per day. Nearly 186 million people were unemployed in 2003, but seven times that number have jobs and are still poor. Why? Because they are trapped in unproductive work.
Raj Sodi, motorcycle mechanic
My parents died when I was very young. I studied but there was no opportunity to work and there were no opportunities to study like we have today.
India has a workforce of over 400 million people, but only one in three has the education and skills to compete for higher paying jobs in booming sectors like information technology. The majority of workers are found in rural areas or the urban informal economy where productivity and earnings tend to be low.
Marva Corley, ILO employment expert
India service sectors are actually the most dynamic part of the economy in terms of growth, of employment, and this is primarily due to information and communication technology. But the challenge for India is to find a way to not only increase the niche industries such as ICT - things like call centres - but also increase the growth of sectors or industries where the majority of labour is actually employed, and then to try to create linkages between these two sectors.
A course organized by the ILO helped Raj gain the skills she needed to work as a mechanic. The course also offers development and traditional jobs such as tailoring and hairdressing. Access to training means Indian women have access to better paid, more skilled work.
Now Raj brings home close to 90 US dollars a month, a windfall compared to the days when she cleaned houses to earn a living.
For her partner, Krishna, increased income has also meant increased independence. She no longer goes to bed hungry after a hard day’s work.
The most important advantage is that we have become more self-confident. Before, I was totally dependent on my husband. He would earn on some days and not on others. Now I can earn my own money and spend it as I like.
Fixing motorcycles might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for these two women, it is all in a day’s work.