Detailing the World Bank’s Jobs Agenda

An ambitious plan to help create more, better and inclusive jobs through a combination of targeted projects and analytical research tools.

WASHINGTON, June 17 2016 – Addressing issues as complex and diverse as helping create jobs for refugees or increasing the productivity for farmers in poor countries is challenging. But with more than 200 million people worldwide looking for jobs—most of whom are youth, while another 2 billion working age adults, mostly women, remain outside the workforce, it is a challenge that urgently needs solutions. To help address this, the World Bank Jobs Group is using innovative analytical and diagnostic tools, and targeted projects to find ways to help create more, better and inclusive jobs.

Earlier this quarter, the Jobs Group welcomed donors and several World Bank Group colleagues to the annual Jobs Thematic Day, where donors were briefed on the analytical tools and products the group is developing, as well as the jobs related projects underway. The meeting was an opportunity to explain the multidimensional mandate of the Jobs Group, which is not merely about creating more jobs, but also about improving jobs and making them more inclusive.

Much of the focus of the cross-cutting group’s work is on improving the productivity and working conditions of jobs, as well as expanding access to jobs to ensure the poor, youth, women and other disadvantaged population groups share in the opportunities. For the poor and vulnerable, jobs are the main way to improve their standard of living and escape poverty. Evidence shows that when people get jobs or can increase their earnings, their families can escape poverty.

“The key to achieving our goals is to understand what it takes to improve the productivity of what you do, where you do it and how you do it” said Mary Hallward-Driemeier, Senior Principal Specialist with the Jobs Group. “This leads to a focus on structural transformation, spatial transformation and modernization – unless countries are making progress on these transformations, it is hard to create more, better and inclusive jobs.”

Country-based Projects

As part of the MDTF, the Jobs Group is currently working in the following countries on these issues:

Ukraine-helping to modernize and improve its employment services to help more internally displaced persons from the east of the country to find employment opportunities.

Mozambique-working on ways to improve both the labor and land intensity of the agriculture sector with a special focus on the aggregator model.

Lebanon-working on ways to help trigger private sector business expansion to help absorb the new migrant workers via access to capital SMEs or wage subsidies for firms expanding employment, training, counselling, and job search assistance.

Pakistan-connecting 3,000 youth and women to digital, non-coding jobs such as data entry or image tagging.

Turkey-undertaking a project to use technology to provide online employment for migrants, which would not impact the local labor market.

Jordan—examining ways to incentivize and seed economic activity on industrial land that is adjacent to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan.

Diagnostics and Strategies

One of the innovative tools the group has developed to better understand the jobs challenge is the Jobs Diagnostic. These diagnostics analyze key trends, labor demand and supply, the geographic location of the labor market, and the policies and institutions that regulate it. Jobs diagnostics allow for similar analysis across countries and provide insight and comparisons that help identify potential job-related risks and opportunities in these countries.

Lessons from Jobs Diagnostics

The Jobs group is in the process of delivering Jobs Diagnostics on 26 different countries. Overall, the diagnostics have revealed some common challenges but also some common opportunities.

Challenges – economic growth does not cause jobs; where there are more jobs, they are not necessarily more productive jobs; and there are spatial mismatches within cities that limit the inclusivity of jobs.

Opportunities – jobs in secondary towns contribute to poverty reduction; expanding access to value chains thereby improving productivity and earnings; and providing opportunities to youth that improve their ability to earn a decent wage.

Once there is a clearer picture of the jobs challenges that a country faces, the team can start looking into the design of Jobs Strategies. These address the policy framework needed to create conditions for jobs to flourish— such as the macroeconomic environment, investment climate, education system, labor policies. This also includes looking at value chains and secondary towns to assess what needs to be done at a sectoral or spatial level to improve job opportunities.

”Growth does not automatically lead to jobs,” said David Robalino, Manager of the Jobs Group of the World Bank. “And some jobs are better than others for delivering development objectives and the market does not automatically facilitate these jobs. Therefore we design jobs strategies to help countries overcome these market failures and achieve their development objectives.”

Monitoring and Evaluation

Apart from analytical and policy work, the Jobs Group is also mindful of the need to measure and evaluate the work being done. With better measurement tools, the Group can focus on what really works. To that end, the team is developing three tools: a value chain survey, project specific tracer studies and macro models. These will help determine the likely job impacts of various interventions, from individual investments in companies and the direct jobs they create, right up to improvements in sectors as a whole, such as power generation or road infrastructure.

In addition, the group is also working on a monitoring framework for jobs in World Bank projects. This is a smaller, nimbler set of guidance and tools to be better able to look at the jobs outcomes derived from operations.

Jobs and Fragility

Jobs are also central to the World Bank Group’s (WBG) engagement strategy for fragile, conflict, and violence (FCV) afflicted countries. With almost half of the world’s poor expected to live in countries affected by FCV by 2030, addressing this challenge is critical to achieving the new Sustainable Development Goals, and a priority for the Bank to end poverty and promote shared prosperity. Jobs bring people together and are therefore one of the potential ways to help reduce conflicts. “These fragile countries are asking the World Bank Group to do more on the jobs agenda,” said Saroj Jha, World Bank Senior Director for Fragility, Conflict and Violence Group. “It is about quality, dignity and inclusion, not just numbers.”

The Jobs Group is helping to shape the overall jobs agenda for the FCV context. This includes helping to restore livelihoods and reintegrate ex-combatants, and helping women to be economically engaged. Crucially, it means working to ensure the design of interventions implemented to address urgent short run needs for income and a productive use of time are consistent with longer run development objectives. For example, public works should aim to improve the future employability of participants, to avoid distorting wages that would hamper private sector firms from being able to hire or to provide disincentives to work or innovate.