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‘Changing world of work needs new jobs strategy for growing population’

By Femi Adekoya
28 December 2018   |   2:29 am
Governments need to do more to help workers and firms adapt to the fast-changing world of work and drive inclusive growth, according to the new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Jobs Strategy.

Governments need to do more to help workers and firms adapt to the fast-changing world of work and drive inclusive growth, according to the new Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Jobs Strategy.

New evidence in the report reveals that countries that promote job quantity, quality and inclusiveness – such as Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden – perform better than those which focus predominantly on market flexibility.

While flexibility and adaptability are essential to stimulate the creation of high-quality jobs in an ever more dynamic environment, the gains and costs need to be fairly shared between businesses and workers, according to the OECD.This also poses a challenge for Nigeria, considering that the number of persons in the labour force increased from 85.1 million in the third quarter of 2017 to 90.5 million in the third quarter of 2018 according to latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The NBS said the total number of people classified as unemployed increased from 17.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2017 to 20.9 million in the third quarter of 2018.Out of this 20.9 million person classified as unemployed as of the third quarter of 2018, the bureau said 11.1 million did under 20 hours a week to be officially classified as employed while 9.7 million did absolutely nothing.

The latest report reads in part, “The economically active or working-age population (15 – 64 years of age) increased from 111.1 million in Q3, 2017 to 115.5million in Q3, 2018.

“The number of persons in the labour force (i.e. people who are able and willing to work) increased from 75.94 million in Q3 2015 to 80.66 million in Q3 2016 to 85.1 million in Q3,2017 to 90.5million in Q3, 2018.

“The unemployment rate accordingly, increased from 18.8 per cent in Q3 2017 to 23.1 per cent in Q3, 2018.”“Countries must step up their efforts to adapt policy and institutions to the challenges of a rapidly changing world of work,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, launching the report in Paris with France’s Minister for Labour Muriel Pénicaud.

“Technological progress, globalisation and demographic change are creating many new opportunities, but not for everyone; policymakers should focus on helping those at risk of being left behind through well-targeted education and training, labour market and social policies as part of inclusive jobs strategies to help everyone get ahead.”

While in the 1990s the OECD Jobs Strategy stressed flexibility in response to widespread unemployment, and in the 2000s it advocated different policy mixes to advance full employment, the new OECD Jobs Strategy provides a comprehensive policy framework to promote not only more but also better jobs and a more inclusive and resilient labour market.

This will be increasingly important in light of the digital transformation and rapid technological change that our economies and societies are undergoing. The most recent OECD analysis suggests that nearly half of all jobs are either at high risk of automation or likely to see significant changes.

The new OECD Jobs Strategy argues that a shift in emphasis is needed from remedial to preventive policies, which would boost efficiency and equity at the same time. Wage-setting rules and the tax-and-benefits system can be combined to make work pay and protect workers rather than jobs.

Countries need to invest in an effective education and training system, which gives workers the skills needed by employers and offers opportunities and incentives for education and training throughout their working lives. Social partners also have a key role to play in fostering inclusiveness, protecting workers and making effective collective bargaining systems.

The Strategy stresses the rise in various forms of non-standard work, including temporary jobs and self-employment. Despite currently representing only a small share of employment, “gig work” is also on the rise and it may expand significantly in the near future. The challenge for governments is to accompany innovation in the creation and use of non-standard employment arrangements, while avoiding abuse, creating a level playing field between companies, and providing adequate support to all workers.

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