Skip to Main Navigation
  • The global movement to end poverty and boost shared prosperity hinges in large part on the types of jobs that the working age population will have. For many countries, increasing labor force participation rates and ensuring that workers have access to good quality jobs will continue to be a challenge for years to come.

    The World Bank estimates that in the next 10 years, the world will need to create more than 600 million jobs to avoid an increase in unemployment and to absorb youth entering the labor market. In regions such as Africa and South Asia, countries face particular challenges to employ a growing number of youth who enter the labor market. Creating new jobs is not governments’ sole concern, however. Policymakers are also focused on low rates of participation in the labor market and high poverty rates among those who participate and have a job.  

    Employment rates in the developing world tend to be low because many individuals of working age, particularly women, do not participate in the labor market. Participation rates are the lowest in countries in the Middle East and North Africa region. At the same time, in parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, demographics are shrinking the size of the labor force, and there are fundamental questions about how to enable people to work longer. As worrisome, many of those who today have jobs are self-employed in very low productivity activities (often small family businesses) without pay. They lack access to core labor regulations and social insurance programs and are often poor. It is estimated that worldwide, around 60% of the self-employed live in poor households.  

    As outlined in the World Bank’s 2013 World Development Report, beyond policies that facilitate investments and growth, advancing the global jobs agenda requires the right investment in people – the right skills for people to secure good jobs, the right protection for people against risks arising from volatile economies, and the right mechanisms to help people transition smoothly out of inactivity and unemployment into jobs, and from low to higher productivity jobs. 

    Labor policies and programs can achieve these goals. Labor regulations and insurance programs protect workers from risks and, if well-designed, can facilitate labor market transitions thereby allowing individuals to engage in higher risk, higher return activities. Active labor market programs such as training, job-search assistance, or support to self-employment can also help workers acquire the skills they need and connect them to jobs.

    Last Updated: Apr 24, 2018

  • The World Bank works with countries to design and implement labor regulations, income protection and active labor market programs that can be extended to a majority of the labor force.

    Employment services, for instance, can be used to address information problems and connect individuals to jobs more suitable for their skills. Wage subsidies provide incentives to employers to hire workers with little or no work experience, including youth entering the labor market for the first time.

    Other programs combine mentoring, advisory services, training in business management, and credit to support transitions into self-employment. During transitions from school or inactivity to work or between jobs, public works programs and services can provide a safety net that helps people stay afloat.

    The World Bank helps countries develop the right solution for their unique social and economic circumstances, with a focus on expanding social protection and insurance coverage while also maintaining or providing incentives to create jobs.

    Last Updated: Apr 24, 2018

    • In Uganda, more than 6,000 unemployed youth have started enterprises and have improved their economic livelihoods.
    • In Malaysia, the Bank helped the government institute a national minimum wage for the first time.
    • The World Bank helped develop one-stop shops for employment services in Argentina, connecting almost 1.5 million workers with employers every year.
    • In Bulgaria, more than 700,000 people are benefitting from improvements in employment services, training, small business support, and local economic development planning. 
    • In Turkey, the government subsidized the hiring of young people and female employees, creating some 200,000 jobs.
    • In Tunisia, a program has worked with about 140,000 youth as they transition from school to work, offering stipends, training, counseling, job-search assistance, and wage subsidies.


    Last Updated: Apr 24, 2018

Additional Resources