A new World Bank report has urged developing countries - including Nigeria - to make jobs creation a cornerstone of development, which would yield a pay off far beyond income alone.
The World Development Report 2013, launched in Washington, USA, Monday, noted that jobs were critical for reducing poverty, making cities work, and providing youth with alternatives to violence.
The detailed report 2013 revealed that jobs stress the role of strong private sector led growth in creating jobs and outlined how jobs that do the most for development can spur a virtuous cycle.
It found that poverty falls as people work their way out of hardship and as jobs empower women to invest more in their children, and that efficiency increases as workers get better at what they do, as more productive jobs appear, and as less productive ones disappear, while societies flourish as jobs foster diversity and provide alternatives to conflict.
"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," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.
"It's critical that governments work well with private sector, which accounts for 90 per cent of all jobs. Therefore, we need to find the best ways to help small firms and farms grow. Jobs equal hope. Jobs equal peace. Jobs can make fragile countries become stable," he added.
The report's authors highlighted how jobs with the greatest development payoffs are those that raise incomes, make cities function better, connect the economy to global markets, protect the environment, and give people a stake in their societies.
"Jobs are the best insurance against poverty and vulnerability," said the World Bank Chief Economist and Sr. Vice President, Kaushik Basu, "Governments play a vital enabling role by creating a business environment that enhances the demand for labour."
The global economic crisis and other recent events have raised employment issues to the center of the development dialogue. The WDR authors, who processed over 800 surveys and censuses to arrive at their findings, estimated that worldwide, more than 3 billion people are working, but nearly half work in farming, small household enterprises, or in casual or seasonal day labor, where safety nets are modest or sometimes non-existent and earnings are often meager.
"The youth challenge alone is staggering. More than 620 million young people are neither working nor studying. Just to keep employment rates constant, the worldwide number of jobs will have to increase by around 600 million over a 15-year period", said WDR Director, Martin Rama.
But in many developing countries, where farming and self-employment are prevalent and safety nets are modest at best, unemployment rates can be low. In those places, most poor people work long hours but cannot make ends meet. And the violation of basic rights is not uncommon. Therefore, the quality and not just the number of jobs is vitally important.
The report advanced a three-stage approach to help governments meet these objectives: first, solid fundamentals - including macroeconomic stability, an enabling business environment, human capital, and the rule of law- have to be in place.
Second, the report noted that labour policies should not become an obstacle to job creation, they should also provide access to voice and social protection to the most vulnerable, and "thirdly, governments should identify which jobs would do the most for development given their specific country context, and remove or offset obstacles to private sector creation of such jobs".
Jobs agendas at the country level are connected by the migration of people and the migration of jobs. Policies for jobs in one country can thus have spillovers on other countries - both positive and negative. The report explored whether international coordination mechanisms, such as bilateral migration agreements, could enhance the positives and mitigate the negatives.