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8. Create Jobs, Sustainable Livelihoods, And Equitable Growth

High Level Panel on the Post-2020 Development Agenda

a) Increase the number of good and decent jobs and livelihoods by x

b) Decrease the number of young people not in education, employment or training by x%

c) Strengthen productive capacity by providing universal access to financial services and infrastructure such as transportation and ICT

d) Increase new start-ups by x and value added from new products by y through creating an enabling business environment and boosting entrepreneurship

Countries at different stages of development all need to undertake profound socio-economic transformations to end extreme poverty, improve livelihoods, sustain prosperity, promote social inclusion and ensure environmental sustainability. The Panel’s discussions on “economic transformation” identified key aspects of a transformative agenda: the necessity to pursue inclusive growth; to promote economic diversification and higher value added; and to put in place a stable, enabling environment for the private sector to flourish. Changing consumption and production patterns to protect our ecosystems and societies, and putting in place good governance and effective institutions are also important for the growth agenda, but discussed under other goals.

There is no quick, easy way to create jobs for all. If there were, every politician in every country would already be doing it. Every country struggles with this challenge. Globally, the number of unemployed people has risen by about 28 million since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008, with another 39 million who have likely given up in frustration. Rising unemployment hits young people especially hard. More and more young people are not in employment, education or training, with long-lasting effects on their ability to lead a fulfilling and productive life.

We have separate targets for jobs and livelihoods, and for jobs for young people to give specific emphasis to the latter. These targets should be broken down by income quintile, gender, location and other groups. Through these targets, we want societies to focus on how well the economy is performing, through a measure that goes beyond GDP or its growth. Indicators for the jobs target could include the share of paid employment by sector (services, manufacturing, agriculture); and the share of informal and formal employment.

Between 2015 and 2030, 470 million more people will enter the global labour force, mostly in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. This is potentially a huge boon that could sustain growth that is already happening. Over the past decade, 6 of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world were in Africa. As more young people enter the work force and birth rates decline, Africa is set to experience the same kind of ‘demographic dividend’ that boosted growth in Asia over the last three decades. But young people in Africa, and around the world, will need jobs — jobs with security and fair pay — so they can build their lives and prepare for the future.

The ILO’s concept of “decent work” recognises and respects the rights of workers, ensures adequate social protection and social dialogue, and sets a high standard toward which every country should strive. However, it has become clear that there can be middle ground for some developing countries, where “good jobs” – those which are secure and fairly paid – are a significant step towards inclusive and sustainable economic development. The conditions of labour markets across countries differs so much. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach – good jobs and decent jobs will both be needed in the next development agenda.

Sustained, broad-based, equitable growth requires more than raising GDP. It takes deliberate action. Businesses need reliable, adequate infrastructure. That means roads, power, transport, irrigation and telecommunications. It means customs, government inspections, police and courts that function smoothly, and cross border arrangements that facilitate the movements of goods to new markets. Business also adds the most lasting value when it embraces a responsible corporate business code with clear norms for transparency and accountability.

People and businesses need the security and stability of a predictable environment to make good economic decisions. The prospects for diversification and moving towards higher value added—needed in some countries to go beyond reliance on commodity exports—can be measured by the number of new start-ups that occur each year and the value added from new products. As countries become richer and their economies get more sophisticated, they usually produce a larger array of goods and services.

There are some essential elements we know work across countries and regions. Jobs and opportunities expand when the market economy expands and people find their own ways to participate. Every economy needs dynamism to grow and adapt to consumer demand. This means enabling new businesses to start up and creating the conditions for them to develop and market new products, to innovate and respond to emerging opportunities. In some economies this is about moving from primary extractive industries to value added products and more diverse manufacturing and services. In others it might be about specialisation. Financial services are critical to the growth of business, but also raise the income of individuals. When people have the means to save and invest or get insurance, they can raise their incomes by at least 20 per cent. We know this works. Farmers in Ghana, for example, put more money into their agricultural activities after getting access to weather insurance, leading to increased production and income. We need to ensure that more people have access to financial services, to make the most of their own resources.

Policies and institutions can help ensure that governments establish promising conditions for job creation. Clear and stable rules, such as uncomplicated ways of starting a business, and fair and stable rules on taxes and regulations, encourage businesses to hire and keep workers. Flexibly regulated labour markets and low-cost, efficient access to domestic and external markets help the private sector thrive. Businesses and individuals alike benefit from training and research programmes that help adapt new, breakthrough technologies to local conditions and foster a culture of entrepreneurship.

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