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Today's Labour Market

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Today's Labour Market

Posted by arun kumar at November 25. 2009

hi every one,

we wait to hear from you all - any comments, suggestions, ideas on the issues raised in the opening note? or in general on rights and conditions of work of young people and what could be done to improve the rights at work for youth?

I would also take this opportunity to add couple of other questions - related issue to the main topic:

1. While this network is for issues concerning youth, but I was wondering if we stand a better chance of improving the conditions for youth by ensuring rights and decent conditions of work for all - in other words, thinking of strategies for promoting decent work for all?

2. What is the nature of job market today? what kind of work do young workers (or most workers) get today? why is it so?

3. If labour market flexibility is inevitable, what kind of changes need to be brought about in labour laws to ensure decent work for workers? 

Re: Today's Labour Market

Posted by Khairil Yusof at November 25. 2009

Previously arun kumar wrote:

2. What is the nature of job market today? what kind of work do young workers (or most workers) get today? why is it so?

I see that a lot of young workers are doing marketing jobs, such as promoting mobile phone, broadband and credit card registrations. At least in Malaysia, the pay is relatively equal or more than other types of work. You also get standard employment benefits. Another similar job in this field are call centers.

Negatives I see from this, is that career advancement for these kind of jobs are limited. A slight downturn in the economy, or competition from other country with cheaper labor (in the case of call centers) and it will be hard to get a job in another field. These jobs also have little job security, and most often are contract work.

Industry placements and training for higher skilled jobs I believe is one way to address this. As Weerapak has highlighted in another conversation, there is something broken with this system. The pay is low/none-existent, learning skills is hard work and employers do not want to train as there is no incentive for employers to assign valuable employees to train youth who may not work with them. My suggestion for this, having had interns is that these placement programs should be attached with a job offer, in which 2-3 interns undergoing training placements, compete for a guaranteed job. This will provide incentives from both sides.

Re: Today's Labour Market

Posted by arun kumar at November 26. 2009

dear Yusof,

unfortunately, the economies are just not creating decent jobs and jobs that are being created are the kinds you describe above - precarious dead end jobs vulnerable to changing market conditions - with no prospects.

Indeed our governments and policy makers need to step back and take a hard look at the economic model that is being perpetuated. while not underestimating the impact of 'employability' factors concerning youth, in my view the problem is more due to 'job less' growth which is the result of the economic model that our countries are following - economic liberalization, deregulation of labour markets, no public control of business, open markets, free trade and the belief that what is good for the business is good for the country. I must point out that 'ensuring equality of opportunities (which is what free trade and open economies with no regulations is supposed to do according to its proponents) does not translate into equality of capabilities in view of the vast inequalities (of development, skills, assets, capital, technology, etc, etc) - in this free for all, poor and those without assets and means are going to lose out - atleast the vast majority will, within and between countries.

It is indeed a strange world we are living in where some people make huge amounts of profits  (such as thru stock markets) every time  the company announces downsizing of the workforce or closure of productive facilities. Profits are being made but no lasting value is created and we have now seen what extreme consequences this speculative capital can have on people lives and countries development prospects (global economic crisis).

So, what say you all?


Re: Today's Labour Market

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at November 30. 2009

Greetings from Vanuatu in the Pacific.My name is Shaun Kennedy and I am the programme coordinator  in Vanuatu for the ILO Pacific Youth Employment programme entitled 'Education, Employability and Decent Work for Youth in Pacific Island Countries'.

In response to Arun's question 'what is the nature of the job market today?'   - in Vanuatu, an increasingly large part of our labour market is in sending  mainly unskilled workers to New Zealand and Australia as labour for their horticulture and viticulture industries.  

The scheme with New Zealand started in April 2007 and Australia joined with their own pilot scheme in 2008. 

In general the scheme is highly successful in Vanuatu. Our workers are highly regarded by most New Zealand employers. Bilaterial relations are strengthened. Many workers return to the same employer several times already, and many have been promoted from an unskilled job to a semi-skilled or supervisory role, which also has better pay. Millions of dollars are brought back to Vanuatu in capital savings, remittances and investments for productive use. Women are recruited equally with men, and even some people with physical disabilities have been employed in New Zealand.

The scheme is not exclusive to youth, but a large number of the total workers are below the age of 24.

Do these Vanuatu workers have their labour rights respected by New Zealand and Australian employers? Currently the Australian scheme is too small for any sort of analysis, but we have approx 3,000 workers in New Zealand for several months every year. In most cases it seems, the employees are well treated. In some painful cases, the employer treats the workers as sub-human entities - crowded into shared accommodation, hidden fee's deducted from their pay packets, irregular hours of work etc.

New Zealand employers must obtain a 'licence to recruit' from the New Zealand Labour Department. If the employers fails to meet minimum conditions for employees, they risk losing their licence and therefore access to overseas labour for their industry. Vanuatu employees can make their complaint  to the Vanuatu Labour Office, who can raise the issue with their New Zealand Govt counterpart, and meaningful follow up action takes place.   

While it can never be perfect, in general it is a good scheme of mutual benefit to both countries. It is small enough to be manageable even by a small country like Vanuatu. Critically it receives support on various levels from the New Zealand government and also the World Bank.

The economies of many other Pacific Island countries are dependent on labour mobility, especially the maritime industry. I wonder if these workers have their rights respected and enjoy conditions of decent work? Perhaps some of my colleagues from Kiribati, Fiji and Samoa  etc could comment in this respect? In many Asian countries, their overseas contract workers are terribly expolited by employers, and the workers receive very little support from their country. Could some of these labour exporting Asian countries learn from the Vanuatu-New Zealand model? 

Most of this excellent APYN discussion forum to date has focused on the labour market at home. For many of our countries in the Pacific and in Asia however, labour mobility and the rights of migrant workers is and will continue to be a major issue. Perhaps it is too big an issue to be incorporated properly into this forum? Or perhaps some readers could touch on this subject if it affects nationals of their countries? Thank you. ShauninVanuatu.

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