UN official calls for inclusive economic growth strategies to tackle global jobs crisis

ECOSOC President Lazarous Kapambwe

27 October 2011 – The international community must urgently consolidate efforts to tackle the global jobs crisis, a top United Nations official said today, calling for countries to adopt a more inclusive growth strategy that can enhance nations’ productivity and capacity to generate income sources.

Lazarous Kapambwe, President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), said investing in productive capacities more effectively and efficiently is an indispensable response, not just to the current job crises, but also to enable long-term sustainable development.

“The global financial and economic crisis has now turned into a global jobs crisis, affecting the daily lives of millions of people worldwide,” said Mr. Kapambwe in his remarks to a UN panel discussion in New York.

“The most vulnerable and marginalized populations are the hardest hit. Without sufficient assets and access to broad social safety nets, they are falling deeper into poverty or, struggling to sustain their livelihoods,”

Mr. Kapambwe stressed that the combination of economic uncertainty, high food prices and unemployment, which have triggered widespread expressions of social discontent in many cities, need to be addressed through a “more inclusive and balanced growth strategy to boost productive capacities to promote job-rich growth.”

The panel sought to find ways to address key issues surrounding job creation and productive capacities to provide policy recommendations to countries based on successful economic growth and reduction poverty strategies.

The panel comes at a time when unemployment remains at an all-time high, with the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimating that 27 million jobs were lost between 2007 and 2009. In particular, young people have been hit particularly hard with a current youth joblessness rate of 12.6 per cent.

“Some 5.2 million young people lost their jobs with the crisis, while millions more dropped out of the labour market through discouragement. A generation of young people risks being scarred by de-skilling and lack of hope of a job,” said ILO Director-General Juan Somavia, who also attended the panel discussion.

Mr. Somavia also pointed to the increasing amount of people who work under vulnerable job conditions – referring to lack of adequate social security, inadequate earnings and precarious working conditions – as an issue of concern, and said women have a disproportionately higher share of this type of employment.

In addition, Mr. Somavia addressed the difference in policies needed for developed and developing countries. He said a policy of structural transformation is needed in advanced economies so that individuals can transition from industries and occupations where jobs are scarce to industries with high job potential.

For this, he said governments would need to facilitate social protection that allows job mobility. As for developing countries, Mr. Somavia suggested an increase in the investment on productive capacities so they can expand their productivity to generate higher incomes.

During the event, a report calling for measures to guarantee basic income and services for all to increase economic growth was also presented by UN Women’s Executive Director Michelle Bachelet. The report, Social Protection Floor for a Fair and Inclusive Globalization, focuses on providing income security and scaling up essential health services even in the poorest countries.

The panel discussed further recommendations on government policies, noting an inclusive strategy would need to incorporate a gender, age and geographical perspectives to be successful.


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