PEGNet Conference 2014

Employment strategies in the Developing World - How to create sufficient, productive and decent jobs

18 - 19 Sep 2014
Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research

Conference Theme

According to ILO estimates, 900 million people are poor despite being employed, 200 million people are unemployed and 75 million of them are young people in the age between 15-24 years. Global youth unemployment has grown at an alarming rate affecting not only the developing world but the developed world as well. In Sub-Sahara Africa, the incidence of youth unemployment is estimated at over 20 percent. With the population becoming more youthful and with increasing unemployment rates; the most critical question that emerges for developing countries is how to create jobs in order to avert a looming crisis that is feared to have a potential of sparkling protests. High youth unemployment rates are only part of the picture. In many developing countries, a large share of the working age population is in informal entrepreneurship and small scale agriculture with no social securities. These people are at high risk in case of illness, job insecurity and weather and climate related events. We consider employment to be a highly relevant issue for research as well as practice.

There is a large demand among policymakers for strategies and methods that analyze the employment needs of different countries. Particularly since these countries are confronted with various problems which do not allow for one-size fits-all strategies. The employment creation policy goals significantly differ across countries. For example, while countries in the MENA region require policies that address the high rates of youth unemployment, countries like China need policies that to manage the vast number of migrant workers in their countries. Thus strategies employed need to be context specific; since a strategy that focuses on the expansion of low skilled labour demand may be useful for countries in Sub Saharan Africa with high levels of unskilled labour, but will not be helpful for countries in the MENA region that have an excessive supply of well-educated young university graduates.
In particular, but not exclusively, we invite contributions (papers and presentations of projects) that provide solutions to the following challenges and questions:

    • Most people in developing countries are dependent on the agricultural and informal sectors. We question whether employment creation should concentrate on these sectors or focus on dynamic sectors with innovative potential and possible productivity gains such as tourism, manufacturing and technology?

    • Thinking about future employment means thinking about education today. We examine how education at schools, universities and in vocational training can be improved to provide better skills for future labor market demand?

    • In many developing countries the education and training of young people is not oriented towards the needs of the labor market. We question how - general as well as vocational and technical - education and training systems can be reformed in a way that best serves the employability of young people and their integration into the labor market?

    • Which options exist to improve the labor market information and job matching systems?

    • Are subsidies for an apprenticeship system and the recruitment of young people a viable option to promote youth employment in a sustainable way?

    • What are the experiences in the field of youth employment creation in developed countries? To which extent might they be relevant for developing countries and emerging economies?

    • How can the impacts of selected employment creation policies and instruments on youth employment be measured?

    • Are social safety nets a viable means of cushioning the effects of unemployment in developing countries?

    • How can we enhance the growth of viable and sustainable enterprises in rural and urban areas?

    • What are some of the country specific policy responses and job creation strategies that could be useful in addressing unemployment?

    • Should informal enterprises in developing countries be (quickly) formalized and if yes how?

The conference provided a platform for high-level dialogue and exchange of ideas between development researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. The two conference days featured parallel sessions based on invited and contributed papers as well as project presentations. The parallel sessions were complemented by



The conference was co-organised by the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis and Research (ZIPAR), the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and supported the KfW Development Bank, and the Courant Poverty Research Centre at the University of Göttingen.