Globally, annual GDP growth declined from 4.4% in 2000 to 3.2% in 2017. One in ten people in the world lived on less than USD 1.90 in 2015, and in too many places, having a job doesn’t guarantee the ability to escape from poverty. This slow and uneven progress requires us to rethink and retool our economic and social policies aimed at eradicating poverty. According to the ILO estimates, the global unemployment rate is expected to be 5.5% in 2018, marking a turnaround after three years of rising unemployment rates. However, with a growing number of people entering the labour market to seek employment, the total number of unemployed is expected to remain stable in 2018, at above 172 million. In 2017, around 42 per cent of workers (or 1.4 billion) worldwide are estimated to be in vulnerable forms of employment, while this share is expected to remain particularly high in developing and emerging countries, at above 76% and 46%, respectively.In 2017, extreme working poverty remained widespread, with more than 300 million workers in emerging and developing countries having a per capita household income or consumption of less than US$1.90 (PPP) per day. A continued lack of decent work opportunities, insufficient investments and under-consumption has led to an erosion of the basic social contract underlying democratic societies: that all must share in progress. The creation of quality jobs will remain a major challenge for almost all economies. But inclusive growth must also be cognisant of the needs of the most vulnerable – children, youth, and women.
Why is this important?
While developing countries have grown at a rate faster than developed regions, sustained economic growth everywhere will be critical to fulfilling our international developmental targets over the next 15 years. Economic growth – making our world more prosperous – is inextricably linked to all our other priorities. Stronger economies will afford us more opportunities to build a more resilient and sustainable world. And economic growth must be inclusive: growth that does not improve the wellbeing of all sections of society, especially the most vulnerable, is unequal and unfair.
How can we address this?
‘No one left behind’ is at the core of the sustainable development agenda for 2030 and if economic growth is to build a fairer world, it must be inclusive. This is the idea behind Goal 8, which aims to sustain an economic growth rate of 7% for the least developed countries by 2030, and achieve full and productive employment for all men and women everywhere in the next 15 years. In 2015, nearly 736 million people live below the USD 1.90 poverty line and that poverty eradication is only possible through stable and well-paid jobs.
India and Goal 8
India can forge its own growth path, which can rely on both manufacturing and services as a growth escalator and employment generator. The challenge will be to create well-paying and productive jobs in non-farm sectors that can absorb more unskilled workers, including women and those in rural areas. As of today, labour-intensive manufacturing has not driven productivity growth and job creation. The sectors that have made productivity gains have been skill-intensive. Almost half the labour force in India still works in the agricultural sector. With low productivity, it is difficult to promote gainful employment in agriculture. Enhancing agricultural productivity through public investment and new technologies should be a priority focus area. Moreover, upgrading to high-value commodities, reforming agricultural marketing policies and market interventions, and strengthening linkages to agri-businesses are critical areas ripe for government intervention. Increasing the labour force participation of women is a powerful tool not only to empower women, but also to steer economic growth itself. As reported by the McKinsey Global Institute (2015), if India increases its female labour force participation rate by 10 percentage points by 2025, its GDP could rise by as much as 16 percent as compared to the business-as-usual scenario. India’s desired transition to a green economy will have a significant impact on job skill requirements within sectors, occupational profiles and business operations. Labour market and skill policies can play an important role in maximizing the benefits of economic greening for workers. Furthermore, The circular economy is gaining increasing attention as a strategy for long-term prosperity and sustainability. India’s engineering workforce, its rapidly developing engineering services, R&D expertise and its geo-position in South Asia, position it as a potential global hub for both frugal manufacturing and services. Additionally, the fourth industrial revolution is both an opportunity and a challenge for India.
The government’s National Skill Development Mission, Deendayal Upadhyaya Antodaya Yojana, as well as the National Service Scheme and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme are some flagship programmes aimed at bringing decent work to all.
- Sustain per capita economic growth in accordance with national circumstances and, in particular, at least 7% gross domestic product growth per annum in the least developed countries.
- Achieve higher levels of economic productivity through diversification, technological upgrading and innovation, including through a focus on high-value added and labour-intensive sectors.
- Promote development-oriented policies that support productive activities, decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and encourage the formalization and growth of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, including through access to financial services.
- Improve progressively, through 2030, global resource efficiency in consumption and production and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation, in accordance with the 10-year framework of programmes on sustainable consumption and production, with developed countries taking the lead.
- By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value.
- By 2020, substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training.
- Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
- Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.
- By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products.
- Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance and financial services for all.
- Increase aid for trade support for developing countries, in particular least developed countries, including through the Enhanced Integrated Framework for Trade-Related Technical Assistance to Least Developed Countries.
- By 2020, develop and operationalise a global strategy for youth employment and implement the Global Jobs Pact of the International Labour Organization.