Employment trends and jobs challenges

The consultation held in Tokyo, 15-16 May 2012, aimed to stimulate discussions amongst multi-stakeholder experts on issues relating to growth, structural change, productive capacities, and employment, as they relate to both the MDGs and any framework that may come after 2015.

Conference paper | 25 June 2012

200 million unemployed in 2011

75 million youth unemployed

One in three workers in the world lives under 2$ poverty line

Half of Spanish and Greek young people are unemployed

Under-employment, vulnerable and precarious work remain predominant features in developing countries

The aftermath of the global crisis has led to a fragile recovery with a daunting employment outlook. An insufficient development agenda and the disproportionate impact of a volatile economic and financial environment on the most vulnerable complete the picture.

Current trends show that major policy changes need to be operated in the world in the next decade in order to meet today’s challenges: growing inequalities and unemployment on the rise, demographic factors, the shifting patterns of growth, trade and investment moving into emerging markets and technological and climate changes affecting everyday’s life and work.

The jobs deficits – in the supply of sufficient, quality, durable and green jobs – are bearing a huge impact on people and markets. The inequalities and social unrest provoked by the lack of decent work are taking a heavy toll on all countries, irrespectively of their position on the development board. Building inclusive growth will require investment in productive capacities and infrastructure, skills and education. To this effect, a mix of economic and social policies aimed at productive investment and a durable economy will have to be considered in the post-2015 debate.

The interdependence between countries highlighted by the crisis showed that global governance is no longer the prerogative of few world leaders. Global policy reforms, including in finance, trade, commodities and technology need to be broadened in defining the new development parameters. And in order to enable effective policy intervention, labour indicators and targets will also have to be broken down by sectoral capacity, income and productivity.

Employment policies – drivers of inclusive growth

In order to be inclusive and to generate jobs, economic growth has to be high, balanced, sustained and diversified. This requires an accumulation of capabilities and reaching a certain threshold of investments in infrastructure and education and skills systems. Particularly in countries with large informal sectors, job-creating growth requires a strongly enabling environment for enterprises, especially SMEs and start-ups, and intervention measures to enhance productivity and incomes in traditional sectors.

Growth that is socially inclusive cannot be achieved without social policies targeting vulnerable groups and social protection floors, providing basic income security and medical care for those needing it the most.