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International Partnerships

Solving the big development challenges – the second volume of a new guide on promoting employment and decent work has been published

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An essential two-volume manual for development actors working to facilitate the creation of productive employment and promote decent work, has been produced by the European Commission.

Employment creation, decent work and labour rights are cornerstones of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. When people cannot access decent work, inequality and poverty persist, and development slows down.

Employment, the key to unleashing development and achieving the SDGs

Having a job does not guarantee an escape from poverty. High levels of chronic under-employment and unemployment, labour market inequalities, adverse working conditions, the predominance of informal work and working poverty are persistent features of labour markets in most developing countries.

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According to the ILO, around half of the total global workforce, some 1.4 billion people, are stuck in what is known as vulnerable employment, meaning they work in jobs that are informal, offer low-pay, without access to social protection or labour rights.

The working-age population was estimated to be 5.7 billion in 2019, out of which, 2.3 billion, or 39 per cent, were not part of the labour force, 3.3 billion were in employment and 188 million were unemployed. Twice the number of unemployed, 473 million people, were underemployed, meaning they have a job but would like to work more or would like to work, but their situation prevents them from working.

When we look at the employment, education or training situation of young people (aged 15 to 24 years), we see that 429 million, or 36 per cent, were employed and 509 million, or 42 per cent, were in education or training. Therefore, there were 267 million young people not in employment, education or training (NEET).

This is why the EU promotes employment that is secure, pays a fair wage, ensures safe working conditions and provides for social protection and social dialogue, safeguarding rights at work. These are all elements of the decent work agenda.

Productive employment and decent work are also fundamental to advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. Employment is both a stand-alone goal – SDG 8 – and is rooted in most of the other goals, such as ending poverty and hunger, achieving gender equality and reducing inequalities. Without progress towards productive employment and decent work, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the SDGs and meet our collective global commitments.

A two volume guide promoting employment and decent work in development cooperation

Volume 1, Concepts and foundations, seeks to sensitise the reader about the importance of employment and decent work for development and facilitate understanding of key concepts, potential barriers to employment and the range of relevant policy instruments. Find it here.

Volume 2, Practical guidance for designing employment-focused interventions, offers practical guidance for supporting analysis, policy dialogue, and the formulation of different types of interventions. It is organised in concise, self-standing guidance notes that provide quick access to good practices on a variety of topics. Find it here.

Here the overview of guidance notes included in Volume 2.

The manual was produced in collaboration with the German Development Agency GIZ and the ILO, valuable contributions were also provided by the European Commission’s DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

Watch the video of Françoise Millecam, Head of Sector on Employment, Decent Work, Labour Standards and Vocational Education and Training, Directorate-General for International Partnerships, European Commission, introducing the manual here.