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Active labour market policies for young people

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Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Niall O'Higgins at July 12. 2010

My name is Niall O’Higgins and I have been working on youth employment issues in general and ALMPs for young people in particular, both as a practitioner and an academic, for several years now. 

Throughout Asia, and indeed the World, unemployment and jobless rates amongst young people are much much higher than they are for prime-age adults. Young people face a number of additional obstacles to employment compared to their older counterparts. They tend to lack work experience and have fewer employable skills. Employers may prefer tried and tested employees with a proven work record. The current Global recession has clearly exacerbated these difficulties and indeed, has affected young people disproportionately.

Active Labour Market Policies and Programmes (ALMPs) for young people attempt to reduce the problems faced by young people in their attempts to find decent work once they enter the labour market. They attempt to remedy failures of educational systems in equipping young people with employable skills and to improve the efficiency of labour market matching.

Information sharing across geographical areas is also an important mechanism for improving labour market policies and we welcome contributions of experiences from all over the world, bearing in mind however, that the focus of this forum is on Asia and the Pacific, so, if possible, such experiences should be relevant to ALMPs for young people in this region.

In this forum, we would particularly like you to share your experiences on specific Active Labour Market Policies and programmes with a focus on the general theme:

What Works, What Doesn’t and Why?

To kick things off I would suggest the following discussion points (see also the introductory note) in no particular order:

  1. Which new programmes or programme types have been introduced in your region, country or area, particularly as a response to the Global crisis?
  2. What specific obstacles do young people face in gaining access to decent work in your region/country/area and which young people do these obstacles affect most? Are their ALMPs in place to deal with these, if not, what should or could, in your opinion, be done?
  3. What problematic issues have arisen with regard to programme design and implementation in ALMP for young people that you are aware of?
  4. Are you aware of, and can you provide details of, any impact evaluations of ALMPs for young people in Asia and the Pacific?
  5. Do you agree with the summary assessment provided in the introductory note (web reference)? If not, what did it get wrong and/or what is missing?


I look forward to hearing your comments and experiences – indeed I would welcome suggestions for specific issues for further discussion. I look forward to a lively exchange of views and experiences.

Niall O’Higgins


REFERENCE: Introductory note on active labour market measures for young people

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Allan Dow at July 19. 2010

Dear Professor Niall et al,

Great to see another interactive discussion on Youth Employment focusing on labour market policies. The Youth Employment Promotion Programme in Timor Leste - an established project implemented by ILO-SEFOPE - is now being extended thanks to the Australian Government - ILO Partnership Agreement. Among other interventions, the programme will be promoting competency-based education and training systems which seek to match Timorese youth with the relevant skills sets required to meet the demand of under-served occupations. They are planning and continuing other good works as well through December 2012. Look forward to some of our technical people adding more info on this.

Allan Dow, Advocacy Officer, ILO Regonal Office, Bangkok.

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by abdul fadil akbar at July 20. 2010

Just wanna share .. (and I beg your pardon, for my poor English, sir)

I'm 20 years old, and I came from Indonesia. This is my first post for ILO, and i hope that i can make any contribution for young people out there, and for me also...


In Indonesia, Outsourcing has been implemented as one of the way of fight against unemployment since 2003. some new policies such as : "Entrepreneurship Stimulation", and some others, has been implemented also in Indonesia. All of this policies are made by our government to establish a better condition for our employment, include the young unemplyment. And i'll try to describe the condition of Indonesia based on those programmes, in my own point of view. (I'm so sorry if the prgrammes that mentioned above, are not include in ALMP)

Secondly. (and Thirdly)

Many problem that faced by the young people of my country.

for the outsourcing. In my opinion, it's, technically, a good system. This system is very effective to absorb the labor, especially for my the condition that my country have (lack of qualified labor, especially the young people, that have neither quality nor experience). and this is a good opportunity for young labor to access the job field. It doesn't ask too much (in requirement), and takes a very short time for us to get the job. But Philosophically, we (or at least me myself), can't call it a "descent work" anyway. the outsourcing worker is just able to take the "less than proper" job in the company that use them. Not only that, the protection from our government is merely ignore their right to get a higher job (based on Outsourcing Constitution No 66 article 13 in my Government). they rarely get higher wages than the minimum regional salary (UMR = Upah Minimum Regional, Indonesian Language). The condition are worst for the young labor, since they have to compete with people that have more "experience" than them (since most of them are too "fragile" and too "know nothing" to take the job) plus the company that rarely give them a proper education system to equip the young worker to strengthen their ability and skill. (i want to explain this even tough i doubt that this is include in the problem of ALMPs)

for the "Entrepreneur Stimulation", I do believe that this is a good system and i was hope that it can make a better and more conducive situation for young worker in my country, since this stimulation will directly goes to to the young people that have plans to open their own business, and also make the other young people inspired to make an idea to settle their own business. The mechanism is to screening the programme that the young people proposed. if it's accepted, the government will financially support them. But the problem will goes to the effectiveness of the socialization of this programme. since we have 234 million citizens, and 80 million of them are the young people, it's a hard job for the government to  make a "bulls eye" socialization. Not only that, the problem also happen in supervising the process of this entrepreneurship. It sounds like the government just want to "give" their money and make this programme able to be claimed as "succeed". no course, no direction, no hands of government in making the idea of this young people happen. everything goes to the young people, whether or not these young people able to make it happen. the government will only ask for the post-implementation-report, whatever the result. And it's discouraging them a little, i think.


I know nothing about ALMPs that had happened in Asia, but at least, (i think) i little bit understand what my country faced, and it just right above..


about Mr. Salgado in Sri Langka, I really sure that what Mr. Salgado and his staff planed is great, terribly great.

I don't really know how the module is, and i don't even know how's the condition of young people in Sri Langka.

but i just want to ask some questions :

  • does it contains "become-an-employer-oriented" programme also? besides "what-employer-want-you-to-be"?
  • In my country, most of the younger are not interested with planting. actually, it's merely because they think that planting is something bored or will kill your age, especially when we know that we have to make it as our own livelihood. the question and "challenge" will goes to on how we can make it very interesting for them (i glad if this point already include in the consideration point)
Then, "youth is wrong if they think that they know everything. but, the elders also wrong when they forget how it feels to be young

" (quote from Amien Rais, Indonesian reformation figure)


that's all i can say..

i hope that I've made my points.


best regards.

Fadil Akbar,

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Shyama L.W. Salgado at July 20. 2010

Dear Allan,


Great to hear from you, especially about the competency based education and training system that the Youth Employment project in Sri Lanka is also working on, in the plantation sector.  As you know, entry level qualification for vulnerable groups to register in VT courses has been a perennial challenge.  This is attributable to the fact that there was never a policy addressing VT for vulnerable groups.  However, the ILO in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Vocational Training and Education Commission, financially and technically support them to develop a policy for vulnerable groups (6 categories) into which youth were also given pride of place.  The policy will soon be adopted and legislation will hopefully follow.


In the interim the YE Project working in 2 district within a Province known as Sabaragamuwa (one of the most poverty stricken areas also recording high youth unemployment rates) works on 22 selected plantations and surrounding villages.  The dilemma faced here is that there is an acute labour shortage in the plantation sector but many youth do not wish to work therein due to the perception that it is a 'dead-end street' in terms of career progression.  Recognising this, the YE project in Sri Lanka is now working with TVEC to establish competency-based syllabi with lowered entry level requirements with a view to promote life-long learning.  The methodology also Recognises Prior Learning (RPL)which is important to this cohort of youth who have acquired skills informally at some point in their lives, even whilst in schooling.  National vocational qualification standard and assessment material, etc are being developed under the project in respect of 4 vocations for the plantation sector and the pilot will cover 300 young girls and boys, who will then be placed in on-the-job training programmes with assurance of wage employment under the collective agreement signed between the trade unions and the regional plantation companies.  They will all be awarded national recognised and internationally understood certificates of competence at the end of the 5 month intensive training.


A key constituent, the Employers Federation of Ceylon, in the meantime is pitching to the more urban educated youth.  They have researched the needs of the 'demand' side through consultation with prospective employers as to what entry-level skills are required for employment.  The research will inform the EFC to develop a soft-skills curriula to formally prepare youth to enter the world of work - soft skills are taught minimally through formal education in schools.  The project too recognising this, has developed a Life Skills package (soft skills) to support the plantation youth's transiton from school-to-work.  The TOT has just been completed and the cohort of 22 trainers is expected to cover over 300 young women and men aspiring to secure wage employment, self-employment or take to entrepreneurship.  A modular approach, youth-friendly 5 day programme is presently being rolled out.


More as the days go by........


Shyama Salgado, National Programme Officer, ILO Sri Lanka


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at July 20. 2010

Hello Professor O’Higgins. Thank you for opening this fifth online discussion from the AP Youthnet. What a great initiative this has been.

My name is Shaun Kennedy. I am emailing from the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu. Even though you have stated in your opening comment that this discussion forum is focused on ALMP’s in Asia, I hope you can also give time and space for consideration of ALMP’s in the Pacific Islands. Youth unemployment is a major concern for policy makers in Pacific Island countries, and this was clearly articulated during an historic Labour Ministers Conference hosted by Vanuatu in February 2010. The challenges faced by Pacific Island nations are unique and complex, as I am sure you can imagine. The vastness of the region, the scattered geography of the islands, the relatively small populations (compared to Asia), the high costs of doing business etc etc.

In your introductory note, you listed five types of ALMP for young people. I have some examples of what the Govt of Vanuatu is trying to do with ALMPs, and I will share these at a later stage.

My first contribution is in response to your question regarding the summary assessment provided in the introductory note? You have asked “what did it get wrong and/or what is missing”?

My question is – do you consider a labour migration policy / programme as an ALMP? In Vanuatu and in the Pacific, labour migration (including seafaring) is often the only option for young people to earn a decent salary. In Vanuatu, since April 2007, our Govt has pursued a very successful seasonal worker programme with the horticulture and viticulture sectors in New Zealand, and to a lesser degree in Australia. Approximately 3,000 mainly rurally based workers go to New Zealand every year for up to seven months. The programme is not exclusive for youth, but the majority of workers recruited are under the age of 30 (which is the national definition of youth in Vanuatu).

It’s a very successful programme which is of mutual benefit to the economies of both countries. Both Govt’s are very active in ensuring the conditions of labour are above the minimum standards of decent work, and complaints from employers and workers are minimal. Many of the NZ employers have very strong social objectives, and want to recruit only rurally based, unskilled and unemployed workers, so that the remittances could have maximum benefit for the family and the community.

Would you consider labour migration programmes like this to be ALMP’s?

Shaun in Vanuatu

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Niall O'Higgins at July 21. 2010

Previously Shaun Kennedy wrote:

I hope you can also give time and space for consideration of ALMP’s in the Pacific Islands. Youth unemployment is a major concern for policy makers in Pacific Island countries, and this was clearly articulated during an historic Labour Ministers Conference hosted by Vanuatu in February 2010.

Would you consider labour migration programmes like this to be ALMP’s?

Well thanks Shaun - two important issues. First I was wrong to limit attention to Asia, I should have said with a focus on Asia and the Pacific - my apologies.

Second, on the substance, labour migration programmes are not usually considered part of ALMPs, or rather they tend to be put in a different box. At the same time it is within my living memory that in Ireland, the encouragement of emigration was still being proposed seriously by economists as a remedy to the grave economic and employment problems facing my country in the early eighties.  Moreoever, in the region, and in particular to my knowledge, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia, emigration is actively encouraged and supported by the government as a a means to increase household incomes and promote national development, so yes I think it is reasonable to consider labour migration programmes to be ALMPs, if by ALMPs we mean policies and programmes intended to increase or enhance the employment opportunities of participants. Indeed, I think it is probably worthwhile initiating a separate thread on this issue, and will do so with some reflections on the relevant issues shortly.



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Richard Curtain at July 21. 2010


Let me contribute to the discussion with some substantive input. My name is Richard Curtain & I was commissioned ILO Geneva's Youth Employment Programme in November 2009 to assess the impact  of the global economic crisis on young people in East Asia and Pacific. My paper also describes the policy responses of governments in the region to the crisis with specific reference to the needs of young people. These two sources of information are then drawn on to propose recommendations for policy action. Unfortunately the paper has not been released, still awaiting final approval.

I am happy to send my paper (not to be cited yet) to anyone who sends me a request at: Relevant to this discussion, my paper describes the youth-oriented initiatives that government funded thru their stimulus packages - those of Malaysia are of particular note. I can provide more details of these initiatives if there is any interest in me doing so.


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Guy Thijs at July 21. 2010
Dear Niall,

Thank you for moderating this forum. I am very glad you raised the issue of impact evaluation and targeting in your introductory note. Targeted youth employment programmes have been around for decades but it is still hard to come around good impact assessments of what really works. ILO is no exception to this. The few known lessons from impact evaluations you exemplify in your note (e.g. targeting and tailoring to individual needs and labour market disadvantages have produced better programme results; generic targeting based only on age may benefit better-off young people, etc..) illustrate the importance of impact assessments of youth employment strategies. The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) has put evidence-based knowledge of good practices at the heart of its medium-term workplan on youth employment and will embark on a regional impact evaluation which will focus on the effectiveness of initiatives facilitated, promoted, supported and/or implemented by the ILO with the aim of identifying high-impact and cost-effective strategies and tools and the contextual elements that are likely to maximize their effectiveness. I would very much appreciate inputs and suggestions from participants in this forum of examples and experience with YE impact evaluations so this can inform the exercise of the regional office.

Guy Thijs


Deputy Regional Director

ILO ROAP, Bangkok


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at July 22. 2010

Thanks for your reply Professor O'Higgins. The Government of Vanuatu certainly encourage and support the seasonal worker programmes with both Australia and New Zealand, and in fact they (Gov of Vanuatu) are working hard to develop complimentary programmes so that returned remittances and workers savings can be maximized for investments in rural community development. One of the major problems has always been access to credit and financial services, but with substantial savings after six or seven months of labour, individuals can bypass the need for credit. So other ALMPs such as entrepreneurship training and mentoring support can be implemented more effectively. This is what is happening in Vanuatu anyway. The fact that both NZ and Vanuatu Governments take great care in ensuring that the terms and conditions for the seasonal workers is good, and pre-departure training and in-country pastoral care needs are dealt with thoroughly, makes this migration policy and programme an ALMP for Vanuatu.


I would be interested to know if Mr Curtain picked up on other ALMP's in the Pacific during his research consultation.


In Vanuatu, our Govt makes repeated calls to return to the land in order to deal with income earning and employment problems. Agriculture and the primary resources are the strength of Vanuatu, but fewer and fewer youth see their future in this sector. The Govt have launched an Agricultural Bank, have strengthened the Agricultural College and have even created a Chamber of Agriculture (as opposed to Chamber of Commerce) in attempts to stimulate employment in this sector. But major obstacles remain - access to domestic and export markets is very problematic.   


The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) have recently developed a 'Youth in Agriculture' strategy paper. It is still in consultation draft form, but I attach it here anyway in case anybody is interested in their recommendations and or action plan.


Shaun in Vanuatu




Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Richard Curtain at July 22. 2010


Sorry, I do not have much information in my paper on the situation of young people in the pacific. As I note: 'in relation to the small economies of the Pacific, the lack of labour force statistics makes it impossible to assess the employment impact of the crisis in these countries'.

In relation to program responses targeted at young people, I was also unable to find any information as I was restricted to using the web. However, few, if any, governments in the Pacific had the resources to provide a stimulus package so I think that I would find little or no program responses to the GFC even if I did make direct inquiries to governments.

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Srinivas Reddy at July 23. 2010

Previously Niall O'Higgins wrote:

Dear Prof. Niall and colleagues,

Thank you for initiating a very interesting discussion on active labour market measures for young people. This is particularly important in Asia Pacific context as the Active Labour Market Policies are often misunderstood by many mainly linking it to unemployment assistance.

I agree with the summary assessment of the Background note but would like to highlight some areas for a possible revision of the note in future.

Many young people are unable to participate in the labour market due to skills mismatch and lack of support for establishing businesses.

One of the key issues that needs to be addressed is the gender dimension while designing ALMPs for young people. Based on our experience of implementing ILO EAST Project in Indonesia, occupational segregation based on gender is highly prevelant in Indonesia, as is the case in other developing countries. Specific measures including targeting and promotional measures are crucial to break the gender stereotypes and promote equal participation of women and men in the labour market. ILO EAST Project with active targeting and promotional measures successfully recruited 46 per cent women in the skills development programmes and many women joined a number of non traditional courses inclulding motor cycle repairs, cell phone maintenance, computer technicians, tax administrators, welders, carpenters, graphic designers, air conditioning services etc. A number of young women demonstrated that they are ready to break the stereotypes and make use of the employment potential in growing economic sectors. Successful women enterprenuers emerged in non traditional avocations thanks to the initiatives undertaken by the Project.

Also central to any ALMP is the need to design a comprehensive package which provides for collection and dissemination of dynamic and credible labour market information, provision of  core work skills and linking competency based vocational skills and enterprenuership development. Most important is to include after training support for apprenticeships, job placements and business start up. It is critical to involve active participation of private sector at all stages of the design, implementation and monitoring of the ALMPs.  

With inclusion of these key elements in EAST project strategy, we have been able to achieve a success rate of 69 per cent graduates trained on vocational and enterprenuership skills getting gainfully employed. A number of success stories with active participation of private sector are emerging and Government of Indonesia and provincial governments in the 6 targeted provinces are actively participating in these pilots. Incorporating these elements, the Ministry of National Education, Government of Indonesia, is launching a new programme called Four in One which incorporates labour market information, competency based vocational and enterprenuership trianing, Assessment and Certification and After Trianing Support.

To sum up, I feel that if the education and labour market failures are addressed through a comprehensive package with the above elements, contexually designed and modified,  young people would have fair chances of accessing decent work.

Srinivas Reddy

Skills Development Specialist



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Richard Curtain at July 24. 2010

Dear Srinivas Reddy

Could you please outline for me how the ILO East project collected 'dynamic and credible labour market information' as I see this as a major issue in many countries in the Pacific where there is little or no information on the demand side of the labour market.

Also I would be most interested to hear how the project got employers involved - how did you overcome some of the real transaction costs that employers face in taking on young people with little or no work experience?

Richard Curtain

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Niall O'Higgins at July 24. 2010

Thanks for all the constructive contributions so far. A number of issues have arisen explicitly or implicitly which I wanted to highlight.


First on Impact evaluation - this is central to the development of good ALMPs for young people over time. Numerous things can impeded programmes from being effective in promoting decent work, and (monitoring and) impact evaluaiton help identify these so programmes can be modified. On this, a couple of years ago the World Bank undertook an Inventory of ALMPs for young people across the world under the auspices of Gordon Betcherman. The complete set of papers including regional assessments are available at,,contentMDK:21454391~isCURL:Y~pagePK:210058~piPK:210062~theSitePK:390615,00.html



and I attach the South and East Asia and Pacific paper below. A couple of points are worth noting on this - given the size of the region the number of programs included is very small - only 21 programs form the region were included compared to 29 for Sub-Saharan Africa, 41 for (non-OECD) Europe and Central Asia, 68 for Latin America and 122 for the OECD. This may reflect the lack of ALMPs for youth in the region, but may also reflect difficulties with information sharing - as evidenced also by Richard Curtain's interventions in this forum.


More generally, one of the overall findings was in general the relative dearth of impact evaluations outside the OECD. So any information on such evaluations would be most welcome.


A second issue, related to evaluation, concerns which outcome do we wish to promote (and so which outcome indicator should we be looking at in evaluations)? A number of contributors to the forum - in particular, Fadil Akbar and, in a more positive sense with his comments on the progamme in Vuanatu, Shaun Kennedy - have highlighted the issue of programmes leading (or not leading) to decent work. More generally, there may be conflict with the desire to get young people into some kind of work, and the more ambitious aim of ensuring theat young people have the opportunity to access Decent Work - that is, to paraphrase the concept, I hope in a reasonable way,  productive, freely chosen and satisfying employment

- work with reasonable conditions and so on. I think I will return to this, but any comments most welcome on the quality of work created with ALMPs.


Third, Srinivas Reddy raises an extremely important aspect - the Gender dimension. Again, I am sure that we will develop this in the coming week, for the time being it would be useful to hear your views and experiences on this aspect.


Looking forward to the forthcoming interventions - please keep them coming - especially from you youing people out there. What are your experiences with programmes?






Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Niall O'Higgins at July 24. 2010

Dear all,

I attach also the overview paper on the results of the Youth Employment Inventory prepared by Gordon Betcherman et al.



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Guy Thijs at July 26. 2010

Thanks for this report Niall. Quite an interesting piece which should be compulsory reading for anyone starting with the design or implementation of a youth employment initiative.  One observation in the report which underscores my earlier comment is worth quoting: “A strong conclusion is the need for major improvements in the quality of evidence available for youth employment interventions. For almost 40 per cent of programs included in the inventory, no evaluation information at all on outcomes or impact could be found. An additional 35 per cent have studies which cover only gross outcomes, and do not use a methodology (e.g., based on a control group) to estimate net impact. In other words, only about one-quarter of all programs included have some evidence on the net impact. And, of the programs that meet this evaluation standard, most (45 of 73) do not include any cost-benefit analysis. Overall, only one in 10 programs included in the inventory has an evaluation which measures both net impact and cost”. Suggestions by participants in this forum on how ILO in Asia and the Pacific can be of help in improving methodologies, tools and instruments for  impact assessments of youth employment programmes would be most welcome as this is an area in which we intend to invest some resources. Guy

Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Srinivas Reddy at July 26. 2010

Dear Richard

Thank you for your reply. One of the top priorities of our project is to make every vocational trianing programme market oriented. As we realised very early on that lack of credible LMI is a major issue, we promoted the idea,    " Skills for Jobs", from the very beginning and spread the word among the training providers and all key stakeholders that there should be no training in any area if there is no demand for such skills. This repeated emphasis lead to constant search for orienting training to market through a variety of formal and non formal methods.

At a formal level, we primarily used ILOs Training for Rural Economic Empowerement( TREE) methodology and conducted community employment assessments in 6 provinces to identify jobs in demand and potential business opportunities. Vocational trianing programme proposals have been developed based on the results of the community employment assessments which were debated at community level, cross checked with employers and other key stakeholders for market demand and then fianlised. This process lead to careful selection of only such skills which are in demand and also facilitated networking with employers to link for internships and placements.

As regards involving employers, the TREE approach by design calls for approaching employers in every location before designing any trianing programme with twin objectives: 1)to find out which skills are in demand and 2) to network with them for potential job placement opportunities.

Thus we have been able to network with a large number of micro, small and medium enterprises and link up the training programmes with private sector. On the issue of transaction costs, I would like to quote an example that we negotiated in Maluku province with an employer, Benjina Resources, a fishing company. In collaboration with the local government Manpower Office and vocational schools and Benjina Resources, we agreed on a collaboration through which the Project would approach community, recruit out of school youth and train them on fishing in the state run fishing school and the employer would provide placement to 100 per cent trained graduates. By this arrangement, we have been able to provide the link between job seekers and the employer. In reality, it might amount to subsidizing the training costs for the employer, as the Project has taken the responsibility for providing the skills trianing. It is a win win situation for both the un employed and the employer as both benefit and the local government manpower office is very happy at this linkage and would like to replicate it in future as they have a target of achieving at least 50 per cent Indonesian workers in the fishing companies in that area. At the moment it is estimated that some of these fishing companies run with over 90 per cent foreign workers and all the stakeholders are keen to promote employment of local youth.

While this is an example in a specific context with a medium sector enterprise, we have been able to network with 61 micro and small enterprises in South Sulawesi province. Most of these enterprises provided apprenticeships and job placements to the trained graduates. While the un employed got jobs in some of these enterprises, the employers could get skilled manpower without any additional investment from their side. From our experience, this requires skills and hard work to approach and network with employers as a strategy towards making training programmes market driven.

Any suggestions on breaking gender sterero types and promotional materials for gender equality promotion would be very useful as we would like to intensify our efforts on this issue.

With Best Regards


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Francesco Pastore at July 26. 2010

Dear Niall,

I would like to take on your suggestion to raise in the discussion gender issues in East Asia and the Pacific. I will focus on young women in Mongolia, a country on which I have done some research work in collaboration with the ILO. My work has regarded all young people, but I found some interesting results regarding gender differences that I wish to share with you and the APYouth Network. In what follows I attempt to shortly summarise the results of the research on Mongolia. It can be a basis to note similarities and differences across countries in the way gender issues emerge in the area.

I attach a more detailed non-technical summary and will be pleased to send by email all my publications on young people and young women in Mongolia to anyone interested.

The analysis takes advantage of a recent ad hoc School to Work Transition Survey (SWTS) of young people aged 15-29 years carried out in 2006 by the National Statistical Office of Mongolia (NSO) with the International Labour Office’s (ILO) financial and technical assistance.

The data shows that on average, young people marry early, 22 years for women and 23 years for men. For young people, families with more than one child are the norm. The one-breadwinner family model is the most common among the youth surveyed. Most women’s spouses are employed, whereas most men’s spouses are involved in unpaid family work or household duties.

In the sample, the average monthly household income level is very low (TUGs123,580 i.e. about US$106 and €79), confirming the position of Mongolia as one of the fifty poorest countries of the world.

Women have greater expectations of educational attainment than men, which explains also their actual higher attainment level. There is a gender gap in employment opportunities in favour of women also, men (15.7%) having a higher unemployment to population ratio compared to women (12.4%). The advantage of women over men vanishes though when the unemployment rate is looked at. This is due to the higher inactivity rate of women compared to men: 57.3 per cent and 47.5 per cent, respectively. In addition, women have roughly the same average hours of work than men, but a slightly greater chance of holding a contract. Finally, life aspirations are different, since girls wish to reach higher educational levels and give less importance to success in the labour market than men. Overall, except for longer unemployment duration, women have an advantage in the labour market. Nonetheless, women might tend to self-select themselves into jobs that offer greater job stability, less commitment to work and provision of childcare allowances for lower pay. What do the data say about the impact of these factors on the gender wage gap?

On average, female wages are not lower than those of males. However, this may potentially hide a discriminating behaviour against women, inasmuch as they have better productivity characteristics than men. In particular, women have on average a much higher level of education than men and, therefore, in principle, should have higher wages. In reality, the conditional gender pay gap is quite sizeable since, ceteris paribus, the median wage of women is about 25 percent lower than men with the same characteristics.

The gap is not statistically significant among young teenagers (15-19 year-old), but reaches about 30 percent among young adults (20-24 year-old) and the oldest segment in our data (25-29 year-old). The gap in monthly wages (-0.30) is slightly higher than that in hourly wages (-0.23), also controlling for the hours worked in the former case. The fact that the gap increases by age group suggests that similar to what happens in mature market economies, also in Mongolia, the disadvantage of women tends to increase with age. Again this points to the lack of childcare facilities, considering that women tend to marry and give birth in their early twenties.

The results of Juhn, Murphy and Pierce (1993) decomposition confirm that women have better productivity characteristics than men, but are paid less. Wage inequality does not seem to affect the gender gap. If wages were paid equally, women should have 11.7 per cent more, even if only considering their higher educational attainment. Taking into account all the different characteristics of men and women, it appears that women should have, on average, 22 per cent more, a substantial gap, considering the low earnings of Mongolians.

In other words, it is the lower pay of women holding similar characteristics as men that explain large part of the pay differentials. This is not only unfair, but also inefficient, inasmuch as it not only reduces the overall productivity of the country, by discouraging the effort of women, but might also reduce employment and participation rates of the least motivated women. In addition, the most motivated women may decide to pursue their careers, postpone marriage and children, and thereby reduce the fertility rate in a country where the population is small and ageing.

Implementing an equal pay policy, one of the Millennium Development Goals, should be an important policy objective. It requires strengthening the legal framework and providing legal assistance to women reporting discrimination practices. Local authorities could provide this assistance and have an important effect on local communities. In addition, action should be taken to help women overcome barriers to better jobs and career prospects; for example, obliging firms to employ women in management roles. This type of positive action would be an important psychological and social factor and affect female labour market behaviour in the long term. The government should, of course, maintain childcare facilities and employers should guarantee fully-paid maternity leave. The role of tripartite agreements is very important to effectively implement equal pay policies.

Francesco Pastore



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Srinivas Reddy at July 26. 2010

Dear Francesco,

Very interesting to learn rather an uncommon situation in developing countries - of women having higher educational attainment and the gender gap in  employment opportunities in favour of women in Mangolia. I am however not sure if occupational segregration of men occupying higher status and high pay jobs and women occupying low paid, low status jobs,  is an issue there, which is a challenge in Indonesia.

In line with many developing countries in Asia Pacific Region, findling predominantly women in low paid and often exploitative jobs like domestic service is a classic example explaining occupational segregation in Indonesia. Even at the next level of skills,  women are often offered tailoring and beutician courses no matter if these skills can lead to any gainful employment at all.

ILO EAST Project experience in Indonesia suggests that interventions are required at various levels- macro (policy),Meso  ( Programme) and community level - to make a dent into the deep seated cultural values which often contribute to this gender stereo typing. A strong advocacy effort at the community level, targeting these values seems to be crucial to break the stereotypes as interventions only at the policy and programme  level often do not adequately address the issue of  changing the mindeset of communities and hence may not yield desired results. Even if we want to attract women to take non traditional training vocations, the women themselves may not respond unless those values which are hindering their participation are addressed. The dilemma is the level of investments that should go into gender equality promotion at community level, as often projects tend to focus on targets and immediate results and may not recognise the need to work on long term goals, owing to other pressures. There is, however, a strong need to recognise this situation for making gender equality a reality in labour market participation.

Gender specific interventions also may play a significant role in breaking the stereotypes through role models and demonstration effect. All this calls for thorough gender analysis during any project design stage and development of appropriate gender equality promotion strategies with adequate budgetary resources and gender expertise. Any insights into these issues and experiences in other countries would help us sharpen our strategy.



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Zafar Mueen Nasir at July 26. 2010

Dear Professor O’Higgins,

I would like to share some information on active labor market policies in Pakistani context. The impact of global financial crisis was hard on Pakistani labor market as reduction in exports caused layoffs of a large number of workers. At the same time, war on terror disrupted economic activity and reduced investment flows to minimum level. On top of that power shortage forced a number of industrial units either fully or partly closed down their production. The natural outcome of these development was the surge in unemployment and that was pretty much visisble in the Labor Force Survey 2008-09 which recorded an increase in the rate from 5.2 to 5.8 percent. It may be noted here that the increase in unemployment rates in developing countries are just indicative of worsening situation of labor market and not the depiction of real picture. Some economists beleive that the actual rates are four times the report rates. Anyhow the situation in Pakistan demended an immediate action by the government to tackle the situation. There were two options; to expand the coverage of existing labor market programs such as President's Rozgar Scheme (employment program) which provides loans for small businesses, involve private sector in the operation of public sector enterprises such as Utility Stores, and provide incentive for self employment. The other option was to start some new programs specifically targeting the most affected segments of the society. Considering the scale of the problem, the goverment adopted both policies. The new scheme was launched with the name of Benazir Income support program (BISP) to provide an allowance of Rs 1000 to each targeted family along with employment for one member of the family in the project funded through public sector development program. At the same time guarnteed 100 days employment was announced for unemployed rural youth. Government also allocated huge amounts in the budget for these programs. Some of these programs are now in their second year and earning praise from different agencies for the difference they are making. I am attaching the employment policy document which address many of the issues raised in your email.  

Zafar Mueen Nasir         


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Francesco Pastore at July 26. 2010

Dear Srinivas,

I totally agree on the role of culture in shaping gender stereotypes and therefore on the importance of long-term cultural changes. It is based on these stereotypes that women self-select themselves into educational tracks that allow accessing low-pay jobs, despite their talent.

Within EU countries, policy against gender discrimination is perhaps more developed than that against any other forms of discrimination, such as that based on ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation and so on. In fact, the latter form of antidiscrimination policy draws heavily on the experience of policy against gender discrimination.

I would say that affirmative action - setting gender quotas in political institutions and in corporations - is the frontier. More generally top-down and bottom-up approaches are both important. The presence of Commissions for the implementation of equal treatment in the main political and governmental institutions is the norm nowadays. Gender mainstreaming is requested to assess the progress made day by day. In the meantime, a bottom up approach is also important to change cultural stereotypes. A strict legislation to punish discriminating behaviour is important for giving women the tools to fight discriminatory behaviour whenever and wherever they occur.

On a more practical ground, childcare facilities are provided in some countries to young women to allow them overcome smoothly this time of their personal and working life without experiencing breaks that may have long-lasting effects in terms of employment opportunities and wages as the case of Mongolia shows. In fact, the amount of funding allowed for childcare facilities relate clearly (and positively) with the fertility and participation rate of women across countries. Despite this, the expenditure for these types of intervention is still insufficient in most EU countries.

The issue of cost effectiveness is important. I believe that policy makers should consider both the cost and benefit of the policy. Benefits for the government' budget are also quantifiable, although they are never considered as they are in part opportunity costs. In the short run, if women do not leave the labour market are not on the state budget anymore as claimants of non-employment benefits. In addition, a successful gender policy implies making women effective tax-payers for the rest of their lives.

In addition, pro-active schemes should target women. Also fiscal incentives for firms hiring women might be important. A new measure could be to allow for a different tax rate by gender, although this measure has its drawbacks and perhaps providing childcare facilities at a low cost would be a more effective policy tool.

I am just trying to sketch some basic lines of what antidiscrimination policy can be. Also within the EU, the battle against gender discrimination is a hard-fought one and is never definitively won. Catching your suggestion to share the experience of other countries, it would be interesting to know how antidiscrimination policy is organized in countries belonging to East Asia and the Pacific.

In Mongolia, gender policy is quickly developing, but much remains to be done. A whole set of policy instruments should be implemented to reduce this female disadvantage. First, equal pay measures should be introduced and enforced for equal characteristics. Second, to ensure that these measures work, the legal framework and its application mechanisms should be strengthened and provision made to ease women’s access to legal assistance when reporting discriminatory practices of employers. Local authorities could provide such assistance. It is also important to implement affirmative action to help women overcome barriers and achieve better jobs, better career prospects, better maternity leave provisions, childcare facilities and support schemes in favour of discouraged or long-term unemployed mothers. Part-time work should be explored as a way of helping young women and men to find a better balance between their life and their work.



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by floro ernesto caroleo at July 27. 2010

Dear Niall,

Dear All,

we are writing to propose a discussion on the justification and the aims of labour market flexibility and active labour market policy. We end up arguing that the quality of the educational system plays a more important role than labour market flexibility in reducing youth unemployment. Educational systems should be based on the dual principle, or, in other words, couple general education and training, while being part of a network with firms and social partners. Efficient educational systems providing high quality education (and training) are more important than labour market flexibility in smoothing school-to-work transitions (SWTs). We are shortly summarizing a reflection that has been going on for ages. The simplest way of understanding the reasons of youth unemployment is to think of cross-country differences and of different systems of SWT.

We have a paper on this issue, which is freely downloadable from the internet, and that develops in more details the arguments here shortly summarised:  


The question from which to start can be as follows. Why do young people move so frequently from one status to another? In fact, when looking at sample data, we see that young people tend to be at the same time in different labour market statuses. They study and work; at some point they leave their work to go back to education or training. This continues for a long time in their lives.

With ever increasing educational attainment worldwide, the educational level of the younger generation is almost always greater than the old generation. Despite this, young people still have lower chances of finding employment. Why is that? The likely explanation is their lack of the other two components of human capital, generic and job-specific work experience. That amounts to say that behind the youth unemployment problem, there is a “youth experience gap”.

Aiming to fill in this gap, young people move in and out of employment in search of their best job-worker match, but if not found quickly, they tend to become unemployed or inactive while continuing to search for a better job. During employment, some young people become aware of their gaps in education or training and, consequently, return to school.

Youth unemployment is clearly related to the hardship involved in accumulating work experience. In the neo-liberalist view, causes of youth unemployment, especially the long spells experienced by many young people, can be found in past unemployment experiences, reducing their chances of finding gainful employment. Unemployment causes a process of deskilling from the supply side. On the demand side, employers see unemployment as a stigma, a sign of lack of skills and motivation. Lowering the share of long-term unemployment and reducing the average unemployment spell would be an important policy target for neo-liberalists.

They suggest that by rendering the labour market more flexible by encouraging part-time and fixed-term contracts, or simply lower entry wages, the policy-makers will provide a simple, low cost and effective solution to the youth experience problem. First, easily accessible temporary employment would provide young people with more opportunities to learn different working methods and tasks and therefore gain the work experience they need. Second, increasing the degree of turnover in the labour market shortens the average duration of unemployment. Moreover, low entry wages would be more realistic to match the level of productivity of young people. These solutions also have the appeal for policy makers of being at low cost. This is an important aspect in a time of increasingly rigid budget constrains for many governments worldwide.

Two arguments cast doubt on this solution to youth unemployment, suggesting that it is in need of amendments. The first is based on the empirical finding that only the least skilled and least motivated fall into long-term unemployment, therefore, there would be no lower job finding rate for them; instead the causal link would go in the opposite direction. Less skilled individuals would experience greater difficulty in finding gainful employment and, as a consequence, also longer unemployment spells.

The policy implications of this reasoning are important. Training programmes finely tuned to the least skilled and motivated groups would be the best policy option to reduce youth unemployment. They would be more effective than increasing labour market flexibility. There is no guarantee that labour market flexibility would help the least skilled and least motivated and it is more likely it would only help those who are already more motivated and better educated and have hence better career opportunities.

Second fixed-term contracts only generate sufficient incentive to invest in the formation of generic work experience. They do not allow young people to increase other skills specific to a given type of job due to their short time horizon. Why should employers and employees invest in the accumulation of skills specific only to a given type of job if the contract is temporary? It is a common occurrence in countries with increased flexibility in youth labour markets that short-term contracts fail to provide young people with specific work experience. This type of market failure of temporary work should be addressed by providing incentives to prolong short-term contracts or specific programmes including on-the-job training.

In addition, there is increasing empirical evidence, that the recent financial crisis has thickened, to support the view that fixed-term contracts create precariousness of income for many young people experiencing frequent interruptions to their career. Too many temporary workers end up in dead-end jobs that they hoped would be a stepping stone to decent work.

The above arguments help understand why increasing flexibility of labour market entry has reduced youth unemployment only to a small extent, while generating work precariousness. Fixed-term contracts alone cannot rule the youth experience gap.

Turning back to the first question, what does comparison across countries suggest regarding the causes of youth unemployment? It suggests that youth unemployment is lower where:

a)      educational systems are more flexible;

b)      educational systems follow a dual (as opposed to a sequential) principle, which means that young people are provided training while at school and not after school;

c)      where labour market flexibility is coupled with high educational attainment;

d)      where ALMP is fine-tuned to the needs of the weakest groups and targeting and evaluation of training programmes are implemented in a systematic way to discard the least effective and develop the most effective;

e)      where households do not bear all the cost of youth unemployment.

The educational system is more flexible if it foresees few or no obstacles to young people moving from one curriculum to another, does not impose constraints to access a given type of education and requires a reasonable number of years to attain a diploma. The educational systems that are more flexible and provide training, together with general education, appear to be more inclusive and feature lower dropout rates.

This conclusion is based on a number of observations:

a) Germany and Japan feature the lowest youth to adult unemployment rate, but are not champions of labour market flexibility, just the opposite. They do well thanks to the dual educational system (Germany) and the close ties between educational system and the labour market;

b) Anglo-Saxon countries do also not as well as Germany and Japan, but pretty well, but their example of labour market flexibility is difficult to export elsewhere. The reason is, this is our view, that Anglo-Saxon countries couple high labour market flexibility with high quality education (on average) and certainly as compared to other countries, for instance Mediterranean countries, that have adopted labour market flexibility as the solution to the youth employment problem;

c) where labour market flexibility is imported without increasing the quality of educational and training systems (Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Portugal), what happens is that the average length of unemployment spells reduces, but the overall length of school-to-work transition increase. In other words, young people move from unemployment to precariousness and come immediately back to unemployment as the business cycle is again in a downturn.

To sum up, labour market flexibility is not the one-size-fit-all solution to every problem young people encounter during their school-to-work transition. In the case of young people, the educational and training systems play a no less important role than the degree of labour market flexibility.


In conclusion of this intervention, we should mention that our conclusions are mainly drawn based on the experience of EU countries, plus the Anglo-Saxon countries and Japan, which means some of the most developed countries in the world. Nonetheless, we believe that our conclusions might apply also to developing countries in East Asia and The Pacific region. In fact, we plan to run a cross-country analysis which should include virtually all countries of the world and it would be interesting to know whether there is an Asian model of SWT (or perhaps different models of SWT) and whether it is more similar to one or another model of SWT typical of other economies.

For these comparative purposes, we suggest that we can apply to school-to-work transition systems the classification elaborated by Esping-Andersen and other well-known sociologist of European models of welfare states. We have preliminarily identified five groups of countries within the European Union representing different mixes of school-to-work transition institutions: a) Euro-Mediterranean system or Latin Rim (France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain are the best examples); b) Continental European SWTs (Germany, but also Austria, Denmark and Switzerland are the best examples); c) Scandinavian system (Finland, Norway and Sweden are the best examples); d) Anglo-Saxon or Liberal system (Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK are the best examples); e) and New EU member States of Eastern Europe (the Baltic states, Bulgaria, the Czech and Slovak Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovenia are the best examples).

Each model is based on a mix of policy tools to ease SWTs and it is certainly true that two-tier reforms are contributing to generate a process of convergence across countries in systems of SWT. Perhaps the same apply also to East Asia and the Pacific.

The models in the classification above can be ordered according to the weight that the state occupies within the system of SWT. The state is minimal in the Euro-Mediterranean system, where an important role is left to the family, which should provide support during the transition, there are no non-employment benefits. Recently this system has experienced an increasing degree of labour market flexibility, but little investment in education and training systems which tend to be under-developed as a consequence.

At the same extreme bound of the distribution for the marginal presence of the State there is the Anglo-Saxon model, which relies not only on the family, but rather on the prominent role of the market. This model tends to favour smooth transitions allowing for labour contracts that are not life-time, but are featured by low firing costs. Also wages tend to be low for low-skill young people, also due to the weakness of trade unions. Pro-active schemes are far from comprehensive, but are generally well targeted and evaluated. The educational system is flexible, but sequential and guarantees high education and quick access to the labour market as compared to the Latin Rim.

The Continental European model is based on the dual role of the apprenticeship system. About 60% of young people that do not decide to go to the university enter the apprenticeship system whereas they receive, according to the dual principle not only general education, but also training on the job. The dual system is pervasive and implies a strong role of social partners and firms in the educational system. The role of the state is important in the educational, but also in the training system. Pro-active schemes cover most young people. Passive income support schemes are also present. Families are helped and young people are followed with a whole lot of services and support. Unions are strong and present in every aspect of social life and the labour market. The limitations of this system are: a) early tracking, as young people have to decide between apprenticeship and university already at the age of 10; b) and the high cost for firms and the state.

Also in the Scandinavian system the role of the state is pervasive, but the central instrument to overcome the youth experience gap is not the dual educational system, but the provision of training schemes to any young people within 6 months of his/her unemployment spell.

Last but not least the SWT of new member states is quickly changing and certainly is different from one country to another. Overall, there is still a strong presence of the state, but mainly for passive income support schemes; labour markets are still fairly rigid; but the educational systems are open to all and generally provide high quality education. They are now reducing the role of passive income support schemes and increasing that of pro-active schemes. The educational system is further improving its quality level by adopting the Bologna recommendations, including some form of duality and internationalization.

Several indicators suggest that youth unemployment is lower in continental European and liberal countries, medium in Scandinavian countries and high in the Latin rim and in Eastern Europe. As already mentioned above, Japan is one example where the youth-to-adult unemployment rate is the lowest in the world.


Looking forward to your reactions


Our best regards to everybody


Nino Caroleo and Francesco Pastore



Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Niall O'Higgins at July 29. 2010

One cross-cutting issue regards the use of indicators of youth labour market problems - and in particular, the youth unemployment rate. I have argued repeatedly in recent years that the youth unemployment rate is rather limited in its ability to provide meaningful informaiton on the situation of young people, particularly in lower income countries. Youth unemployment rates in rural areas are typically much lower than they are in urban ones - but this does not mean that rural youth do 'better' in any sense in the labour market than do their urban compatriots - as indeed is shown by rural to urban migration. Similarly with young women as noted with the apparently contradictory evidence presented by Fracncesco for Mongolia. In my view a much better single indicator - or better still complementary indicator - its the youth jobless rate. This is simply the proportion of young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training. It has numerous advantages - it is very easy to calculate and doesn't require any complicated - or questionable - conditions (in contrast to the active job search criterion for the youth unemployment rate - what does active job search actually mean in a poor rural context where there are no nearby labour offices?). Moreover, it also captures discouraged workers. More generally I would argue that participation in the labour market itself depends on labour market conditions and for many purposes the jobless rate is a more meaningful indicator. For example, in the contribution from Francesco above, the apparent contradiction between the unemployment rate (higher for young women than young men) and the unemployment population ratio (lower for young women) is resolve with the suie of the jobless rate which would show that joblessness is unequivicolally higher for young women in Mongolia (as indeed in many other countries). Similar considerations could be applied to the Pakistani example provided by Zafar above.

comments welcome


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by Niall O'Higgins at August 01. 2010

Dear All,

the forum is now coming to a close and it just remains for me to thank all the contributors - it really has been an interesting and enjoyable process moderating this forum and I think that much useful information has been provided by all ths who put their oar in as it were, so thanks to all of you.

There was far too much in the forum for me to adequately sumarise, but let me pick out a few things which struck me particularly:

1) There is very evidently a lack of information on ALMPs for young people in the region, moreover, the number of serious programme impact evaluations also seems to lag somewhat behind other regions. This is something that might be picked up by the ILO - perhaps with a view to - a) make a serious attempt to inventory labour market programmes for young people in the region; and, b) push 'pro-actively' for more evaluations of existing or new programmes - one way to do this would be to use existing data sources (e.g. labour force surveys and so on which are carried out periodically in most countries in the region) to actually attempt some evalution of past programmes with a view to illustrate the utility of this type of excercise. I am not sure quite how feasible this would be, but suppose that it must be the case that some programmes in some countries could be evaluated, and this could serve as an illustration and stimulus to encourage the inclusion of impact evaluation at the programme design stage more generally.

2) Gender issues emerged as an important theme and there were some interestiing examples and information provided on this. In addition to iposts on the situation of women, in different countries, the examples of programmes aimed at breaking with gender stereotypes were particularly stimulating. 

3) More generally we had a number of examples of ALMPs adopted in different countries. I found particularly interesting (not least because it struck a chord with my memories of Ireland struggling to escape its role of poor 'man' of Europe in the early 1980s) the example of migration policies being used as ALMPs in the Pacific and, in particular, the linking up of migraiton policies with employment creation policies in the migrant sending countries which is, I think,  a particularly useful avenue to explore.

4) And lastly, an important point was slipped in by Paul Ryan towards the end - and this was also central to the intervention by Ninetto and Fracnesco in this thread. It is well to remember that ALMPs are remedial in nature - they seek to correct the  joint failure of a) educational systems to equip young people adequately for labour market entry and b) for labour markets to accomodate them. As such they are more or less inevitably - and the impact evaluation supports this notion -  a less effective means of supporting the 'school-to-work' transition than stable (and appropriate) institutional structures preparatory to  - or concomitant with - labour market entry. Such structures - for example dual apprenticeship systems and the like - are by their nature less flexible and so there will always be a role for ALMPs, but serious discussion of ALMPs for young people needs to be embedded in the more general issues concerning the school-to-work transition and what the institutional structure in specific countries should look like.  

In any event, these are some of the issues which struck me more forcefully as I followed the discussion. As I said much information was provided and many points made, so I will end by  pre-emptively apologising for my highly selective choice of questions to emphasise in this last post which no doubt does not do justice to the many  arguments discussed over these two weeks. 

Best wishes and thanks again to you all,


Re: Active labour market policies for young people

Posted by jugault at August 02. 2010


I am interested in the mis-match in supply and demand in skills in the green economy, in particular amongst the young labor force. The "green economy" is particularly strong in key sectors such as transport, tourism, environmental sectors, energy, education, urban planning, forestry and natural resources, etc and brings the prospect of high growth as compared to other economic sectors.

Interestingly, we will find, including in Asia, a large support and desire amongst the young working population for jobs in enterprises that can demonstrate good environmental performance. Example: "A poll of more than 16,000 people carried out in 2007 in 15 countries designed to see how concerned consumers around the globe react to climate change, showed that nearly seven out of 10 Chinese consumers and more than half of Australians said they would prefer to buy products and services from green companies. These results were much higher if compared with similar polling of European and North American consumers. The Chinese consumers had also showed a greater preference than other Asians and Europeans in working for companies with a solid environmental reputation. Source: Reuters, 2007. Ipsos/MORI survey, commissioned by the communications company Tandberg."

Another worldwide survey conducted annually to gauge consumer perceptions of the "green climate" globally found that the environment and global warming are higher concerns among the Chinese than the economy and that green awareness among the Chinese is somewhat stronger than British and US residents. The results indicated that Chinese consumers were highly conscious of the state of the environment and were eager to play an active role in affecting not only their own behaviours, but also those of Chinese regulators and businesses. Source: WPP's agencies Landor Associates, Cohn & Wolfe, and Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB). Fifth China Branding Roundtable, Beijing, The Economist magazine

Of course, polls also show that sensitivity to environmental issues, and jobs, are higher amongst the young population than the older one.

What is striking is the continuous failure to materialize this interest from the young for these new jobs in high growth sectors. We should also say that many of the green segments of the economy are, or can be, more labour intensive than traditional sectors; e.g. renewable energy, organic food, sustainable transport, etc. At the same time, the countries having heavily invested in the green economy all face shortages of skillful labour.

Apart from classic problems of mismatch, where do existing ALMP fail? Why is this potential not captured in particular in labor-rich countries ? We would have more questions than answers. However, maybe below some elements for thoughts.

- employment policies fail to recognize the potential for job creation. There is still a need in the region to kill many myths related to environment driven policies such as costs, technology drivenness, high skills requirements, etc. When factors such as high rates of labor intensity, wealth redistribution (justice), and local development benefits, etc are generally ignored, misconceptions remain in the productive sector but amongst those responsible to design ALMP as well; there may also be a need to educate the educators as well;

- lack of understanding on the linkages between employment, environment and the economy. These linkages are yet to be understood in many developing countries in Asia. Analytical tools to measures and assess the employment impacts of voluntary environemtn driven policies (direct, indirect, induced) are not particualrly adequate in economies with a large informal sector, important decent work deficits, low income jobs, etc. For example, many countries need to properly assess the potential of 'poles' of green growth in their own economy, which for some include renewable energy in rural areas, sustainable agriculture, material and resource efficiency-recycling.

- lack of educational and skills programs addressing the wide range of needs of the industry; a long-time problem in Asia (?). Very few employment services address the particular needs of these sectors. Fiji has created recently its Employment Service sector with specific requirements to address the needs for green growth, green industry and green jobs. We will be interested to see how effectiev these 'new' services will be in practice, in particular in addressing the eneds of the young;

- lack of diversity on the supply side. The Gren Jobs prorgam of the US Labor Department is interesting in this regard. Specific programs are developed for young, for disable, for women (for veterans, etc), in specific economic sectors (mining), or areas (OHS). Rhe Australian Green Jobs Program is also interesting. It encompasses mainly the National Green Jobs Corps, apprenticeship program for new Green Skills, training places for Insulation installers, and new local green jobs. Both examples aim at multiplying the offer so that more young people will transit quick through the school-to-work period;

As mentioned earlier in other comments, there would be a need for proper evaluation of such fairly recent programs, with comparable methodologies, definitions, etc (in these particular cases)

- quality of education and training, as was indicated by an earlier comment ? that is possible. in some cases the training capacity is just the first problem to address. Solar panel companies in China decide to set up their own universities in front of the failure of the state educational system to deliver. The lack of innovative approaches, including PPP, green technology programs (Malaysia), harmonization of competency standards, technology transfer agreements and facilities (north-south), can also be part of the problem.

- disparity in green technology absorption capacity is an illustration of these difficulties. A country like Thailand may find no problems in transferring green technology, but many in absorging it. These are different issues;

I would like to mention here one interesting example or challenge posed by a very 'asian' program, namely the NREGA in India. The rural employment guarantee act is, in fact, not considered a true employment instrument by many. What may be interestng though is the debate on how to turn this program into a true gender, young sensitive tool for sustainable development in particular for rural populations. Apart from the many discussions on how best such a program could actually optimize its social justice dimension (who does the program benefit most, the land owners or the workers? etc), the fact that large parts of the young labor force can be mobilized, given dignity through work - although limited in volume, with decent work gaps - is interesting in itself. From an employment point of view, the challenge would be to ensure that these services that are being put in place in such a huge country through this program can also add access to skills development which aim would be to augment exposure to other possibilities for work to mainly poor, illeterate, unskilled young populations.

Hoping this was not too out of the box/out of the subject


Vincent Jugault

Environment and Decent Work

ILO ROAP- Bangkok

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