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Jobs and Poverty Overview

Nothing drives poverty reduction as much as access to jobs and increasing wages, World Bank research shows. The 2013 World Development Report calls jobs a cornerstone for development that connects living standards, productivity and social cohesion – all critical for achieving inclusive growth.

Access to good, steady jobs and living wages are key to the Bank’s goal to end extreme poverty by 2030 and to promote shared prosperity in the nations we serve.

Keeping people in growing nations employed will be a challenge, however. The International Labor Organization estimates that more than 400 million more jobs must be created worldwide between 2012 and 2022 to keep unemployment from rising.

Demand for labor-related Bank support has been growing over the last couple of decades, especially in wake of the 2008 financial crisis which eliminated up to 50 million jobs, according to some estimates.

Between 2009 and 2011, the Bank’s annual financial support for labor programs was $634 million on average, up from $477 million between 1998 and 2008.

 

The World Bank works with client countries to give poor people – especially women and young people – better access to the labor market. We support employment training initiatives, credit services, small business development and other labor-related programs in dozens of countries. We are also working with clients to reform and strengthen labor protection laws.

Underpinning such projects is a large body of analytical work on jobs and employment that guides our programs. Such research covers labor market developments, wage inequality, job creation strategies and much more.

Our work to expand job markets and opportunities takes many shapes and forms. As an example, the Bank is financing a $30-million, six-year program in Niger that focuses on vocational training to try to reduce youth unemployment. The program seeks to promote entrepreneurship by targeting 11,000 people aged 15 to 25.

Reforms supported by the Bank that offer protection for workers have resulted in the first minimum wage ever in Malaysia, new savings-based unemployment benefit systems in Brazil, Chile and Colombia; and a new labor code in Bhutan.

Yet another initiative, the Jobs Knowledge Platform, is mobilizing a broad range of institutions and advocates to brainstorm ideas for creating and improving jobs worldwide.

 

 

Here are a few of the many successful jobs initiatives the World Bank has supported in recent years:

• In Uganda, the Youth Opportunities Program of the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund helped almost 6,000 unemployed youth start enterprises and improve their livelihoods. By providing vocational training opportunities and cash grants to youth groups, the $1.8-million program almost doubled cash earnings among participants (relative to a control group) while also improving social cohesion and community support.

• Through Bulgaria's Social Investment and Employment Promotion Project, more than 700,000 people are benefitting from small social infrastructure improvements and services at the municipal and community level. The project provides demand-driven improvements to employment services, training for vulnerable people such as the Roma population, small business support through virtual incubators, and local economic development planning.

• Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust in India offers a range of business development services and mentoring to its clients. The mentoring models have been tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs from underprivileged urban and rural communities. More than 1,200 youth enterprises have been created since the trust's inception in 1992 that have generated more than 11,700 new jobs.

• Designed and implemented in four months with less than $200,000, Digital Jam 2.0 is an initiative to promote Jamaican youth employment in the virtual global economy. As a result, more than 4,000 young people have been employed by online platforms. It also helped establish funds to support start-ups in the app economy and the commercialization of apps; and led to a number of internships with leading Caribbean telecom companies – and more.

 

Around The Bank Group

Find out what the Bank Group's branches are doing on Jobs and Poverty.