The World Bank has launched a global conversation that is based on the simple question: “What will it take?” This provocative question seeks solutions to ending poverty and human suffering that will be based on crowd sourced ideas from people all around the world.
The kinds of answers they are likely to get from people in the developing world will likely resonate with the findings in the just-released 2013 World Bank World Development Report (WDR), which identifies jobs as a key part of the solution. In this annual publication, the World Bank firmly highlights jobs as an instrumental driver for growth.
Since the onset of the global economic crisis, as well as recent political upheavals in the Middle East, employment has occupied a dominant position in development discourses. ONE recently released a report which shows that households across the world overwhelmingly identify income-related concerns (i.e. jobs) as a primary concern.
According to the WDR, widespread unemployment persists as an impediment to progress as 200 million people — including 75 million under the age of 25 — remain jobless, and countless more (disproportionately women) are entirely excluded from the labor force.
To address this problem of unemployment, the report estimates that an additional 600 million jobs need to be created over the next 15 years, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia where the youth bulge is especially pronounced. Employment offers a path out of hardship by raising living standards, increasing productivity, and empowering women via financial independence. Also noted are the societal contributions of jobs, namely fostering social cohesion, diversity and providing alternatives to violent conflict.
Further, the report places emphasis on the quality of job creation, noting that jobs that raise incomes, improve the functionality of cities, link domestic and global markets, safeguard the environment, and give people a stake in their societies have the greatest development payoffs.
A key theme throughout the report is the transformational power of jobs. In World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s words:
“A good job can change a person’s life, and the right jobs can transform entire societies. Governments need to move jobs to center stage to promote prosperity and fight poverty.”
That said, the report is careful to note that the government’s role in creating jobs is related to building the right kind of environment for private sector job creation to flourish. The report acknowledges the role of a strong private sector in job creation as it currently accounts for 90 percent of all jobs worldwide. The Bank offers a three-stage approach to support governments in this regard:
Solid fundamentals – macroeconomic stability, an enabling business environment, human capital, and the rule of law- have to be in place.
Labor policies should be for the protection of the most vulnerable, not an obstacle to job creation.
Governments should identify the right jobs for their country context, and remove obstacles to private sector job creation.
ONE welcomes the findings of WDR 2013 and hopes that this will help focus development policy.