PAWSSD Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Expansion of Productive Employment and Reduction of Unemployment

Basis for action and objectives

42. Productive work and employment are central elements of development as well as decisive elements of human identity. Sustained economic growth and sustainable development as well as the expansion of productive employment should go hand in hand. Full and adequately and appropriately remunerated employment is an effective method of combating poverty and promoting social integration. The goal of full employment requires that the State, the social partners and all the other parts of civil society at all levels cooperate to create conditions that enable everyone to participate in and benefit from productive work. In a world of increasing globalization and interdependence among countries, national efforts need to be buttressed by international cooperation. 43. Globalization and rapid technological development give rise to increased labour mobility, bringing new employment opportunities as well as new uncertainties. There has been an increase in part-time, casual and other forms of atypical employment. In addition to requiring the creation of new employment opportunities on an unprecedented scale, such an environment calls for expanded efforts to enhance human resource development for sustainable development by, inter alia, enhancing the knowledge and skills necessary for people, particularly for women and youth, to work productively and adapt to changing requirements.

44. In many developed countries, growth in employment is currently great in small and medium-sized enterprises and in self-employment. In many developing countries, informal sector activities are often the leading source of employment opportunities for people with limited access to formal-sector wage employment, in particular for women. The removal of obstacles to the operation of such enterprises and the provision of support for their creation and expansion must be accompanied by protection of the basic rights, health and safety of workers and the progressive improvement of overall working conditions, together with the strengthening of efforts to make some enterprises part of the formal sector.

45. While all groups can benefit from more employment opportunities, specific needs and changing demographic patterns and trends call for appropriate measures. Particular efforts by the public and private sectors are required in all spheres of employment policy to ensure gender equality, equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the basis of race/ethnic group, religion, age, health and disability, and with full respect for applicable international instruments. Special attention must also be paid to the needs of groups who face particular disadvantages in their access to the labour market so as to ensure their integration into productive activities, including through the promotion of effective support mechanisms.

46. Much unremunerated productive work, such as caring for children and older persons, producing and preparing food for the family, protecting the environment and providing voluntary assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups, is of great social importance. World wide, most of this work is done by women who often face the double burden of remunerated and unremunerated work. Efforts are needed to acknowledge the social and economic importance and value of unremunerated work, to facilitate labour-force participation in combination with such work through flexible working arrangements, encouraging voluntary social activities as well as broadening the very conception of productive work, and to accord social recognition for such work, including by developing methods for reflecting its value in quantitative terms for possible reflection in accounts that may be produced separately from, but consistent with, core national accounts.

47. There is therefore an urgent need, in the overall context of promoting sustained economic growth and sustainable development, for:

  • Placing the creation of employment at the centre of national strategies and policies, with the full participation of employers and trade unions and other parts of civil society;
  • Policies to expand work opportunities and increase productivity in both rural and urban sectors;
  • Education and training that enable workers and entrepreneurs to adapt to changing technologies and economic conditions;
  • Quality jobs, with full respect for the basic rights of workers as defined by relevant International Labour Organization and other international instruments;
  • Giving special priority, in the design of policies, to the problems of structural, long-term unemployment and underemployment of youth, women, persons with disabilities and all other disadvantaged groups and individuals;
  • Empowerment of women, gender balance in decision-making processes at all levels and gender analysis in policy development to ensure equal employment opportunities and wage rates for women and to enhance harmonious and mutually beneficial partnerships between women and men in sharing family and employment responsibilities;
  • Empowerment of members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including through the provision of education and training;
  • A broader recognition and understanding of work and employment and greater flexibility in working time arrangements for both men and women.


A. The centrality of employment in policy formulation

48. Placing the expansion of productive employment at the centre of sustainable development strategies and economic and social policies requires:

(a) Promoting and pursuing active policies for full, productive, appropriately remunerated and freely chosen employment;

(b) Giving priority at the national and international levels to the policies that can address the problems of unemployment and underemployment.

49. Minimizing the negative impact on jobs of measures for macroeconomic stability requires:

(a) Pursuing the coordination of macroeconomic policies so that they are mutually reinforcing and conducive to broad-based and sustained economic growth and sustainable development, as well as to substantial increases in productive employment expansion and a decline in unemployment world wide;

(b) Giving priority to programmes that most directly promote viable and long-term job growth when budgetary adjustments are required;

(c) Removing structural constraints to economic growth and employment creation as a part of stabilization policies;

(d) Enabling competing claims on resources to be resolved in a non-inflationary manner through the development and use of sound industrial relations systems;

(e) Monitoring, analysing and disseminating information on the impact of trade and investment liberalization on the economy, especially on employment;

(f) Exchanging information on different employment promotion measures and their consequences, and monitoring the development of global employment trends;

(g) Establishing appropriate social safety mechanisms to minimize the adverse effects of structural adjustment, stabilization or reform programmes on the workforce, especially the vulnerable, and for those who lose their jobs, creating conditions for their re-entry through, inter alia, continuing education and retraining.

50. Promoting patterns of economic growth that maximize employment creation requires:

(a) Encouraging, as appropriate, labour-intensive investments in economic and social infrastructure that use local resources and create, maintain and rehabilitate community assets in both rural and urban areas;

(b) Promoting technological innovations and industrial policies that have the potential to stimulate short and long-term employment creation, and considering their impact on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

(c) Giving developing countries the capacity to select specific and suitable technologies;

(d) Providing technical assistance and expanded transfer of technology to developing countries to integrate technology and employment policies with other social objectives, and to establish and strengthen national and local technology institutions;

(e) Encouraging the realization in the countries with economies in transition of programmes for on-the-job personnel training, facilitating their adaptation to market-oriented reforms and reducing mass unemployment;

(f) Promoting mutually supportive improvements in rural farm and non-farm production, including animal husbandry, forestry, fisheries and agro-processing industries, aiming to expand and diversify environmentally sound, sustained economic activity and productive employment in the rural sector;

(g) Encouraging community economic development strategies that build on partnerships among Governments and members of civil society to create jobs and address the social circumstances of individuals, families and communities;

(h) Introducing sound policies to mobilize savings and stimulate investment in capital-short areas;

(i) Maximizing the job creation potential inherent in Agenda 21 through the conservation and management of natural resources, the promotion of alternative livelihoods in fragile ecosystems, and the rehabilitation and regeneration of critically affected and vulnerable land areas and natural resources;

(j) Encouraging the utilization of renewable energy, based on local employment-intensive resources, in particular in rural areas.

51. Enhancing opportunities for the creation and growth of private-sector enterprises that would generate additional employment requires:

(a) Removing obstacles faced by small and medium-sized enterprises and easing regulations that discourage private initiative;

(b) Facilitating access by small and medium-sized enterprises to credit, national and international markets, management training and technological information;

(c) Facilitating arrangements between large and small enterprises, such as subcontracting programmes, with full respect for workers’ rights;

(d) Improving opportunities and working conditions for women and youth entrepreneurs by eliminating discrimination in access to credit, productive resources and social security protection, and providing and increasing, as appropriate, family benefits and social support, such as health care and child care;

(e) Promoting, supporting and establishing legal frameworks to foster the development of cooperative enterprises, and encouraging them to mobilize capital, develop innovative lending programmes and promote entrepreneurship;

(f) Assisting informal sectors and local enterprises to become more productive and progressively integrated into the formal economy through access to affordable credit, information, wider markets, new technology and appropriate technological and management skills, opportunities to upgrade technical and management skills, and improved premises and other physical infrastructure, as well as by progressively extending labour standards and social protection without destroying the ability of informal sectors to generate employment;

(g) Promoting the creation and development of independent organizations, such as chambers of commerce and other associations or self-help institutions of small formal and informal enterprises;

(h) Facilitating the expansion of the training and employment-generating opportunities of industries.

B. Education, training and labour policies

52. Facilitating people’s access to productive employment in today’s rapidly changing global environment and developing better quality jobs requires:

(a) Establishing well-defined educational priorities and investing effectively in education and training systems;

(b) Introducing new and revitalized partnerships between education and other government departments, including labour, and communications and partnerships between Governments and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups and families;

(c) Ensuring broad basic education, especially literacy, and promoting general education, including the analytical and critical thinking that is essential to improve learning skills. This is the foundation for acquiring specialized skills and for renewing, adapting and upgrading them rapidly to facilitate horizontal and vertical occupational mobility;

(d) Promoting the active participation of youth and adult learners in the design of literacy campaigns, education and training programmes to ensure that the labour force and social realities of diverse groups are taken into account;

(e) Promoting lifelong learning to ensure that education and training programmes respond to changes in the economy, provide full and equal access to training opportunities, secure the access of women to training programmes, offer incentives for public and private sectors to provide and for workers to acquire training on a continuous basis, and stimulate entrepreneurial skills;

(f) Encouraging and supporting through technical assistance programmes, including those of the United Nations system, well-designed and adaptable vocational training and apprenticeship programmes to enhance productivity and productive employment;

(g) Promoting and strengthening training programmes for the employment of new entrants to the job market and retraining programmes for displaced and retrenched workers;

(h) Developing an enhanced capacity for research and knowledge dissemination by encouraging national and international exchanges of information on innovative models and best practices;

(i) Developing, in the area of vocational and continuing education, innovative methods of teaching and learning, including interactive technologies and inductive methods involving close coordination between working experience and training.

53. Helping workers to adapt and to enhance their employment opportunities under changing economic conditions requires:

(a) Designing, developing, implementing, analysing and monitoring active labour policies to stimulate the demand for labour in order to ensure that the burden of indirect labour costs on employers does not constitute a disincentive to hiring workers, identifying skill shortages and surpluses, providing vocational guidance and counselling services and active help in job searches, promoting occupational choice and mobility, offering advisory services and support to enterprises, particularly small enterprises, for the more effective use and development of their workforce, and establishing institutions and processes that prevent all forms of discrimination and improve the employment opportunities of groups that are vulnerable and disadvantaged;

(b) Improving employment opportunities and increasing ways and means of helping youth and persons with disabilities to develop the skills they need to enable them to find employment;

(c) Promoting access by women and girls to traditionally male-dominated occupations;

(d) Developing strategies to address the needs of people engaged in various forms of atypical employment;

(e) Promoting labour mobility, retraining and maintenance of adequate levels of social protection to facilitate worker redeployment when there is phasing out of production or closure of an enterprise, giving special attention to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;

(f) Facilitating the integration or reintegration of women into the workforce by developing adequate child care, care for older persons and other support services and facilities;

(g) Encouraging cooperation between employers and workers to prepare for the introduction of new technologies and to plan for their employment effects as far in advance as possible, while ensuring adequate protection and adjustment;

(h) Strengthening public and private employment services to assist workers to adapt to changing job markets and provide social safety mechanisms, occupational guidance, employment and job search counselling, training, placement, apprenticeships and the sharing of information;

(i) Strengthening labour market information systems, particularly through development of appropriate data and indicators on employment, underemployment, unemployment and earnings, as well as dissemination of information concerning labour markets, including, as far as possible, work situations outside formal markets. All such data should be disaggregated by gender in order to monitor the status of women relative to men.

C. Enhanced quality of work and employment

54. Governments should enhance the quality of work and employment by:

(a) Observing and fully implementing the human rights obligations that they have assumed;

(b) Safeguarding and promoting respect for basic workers’ rights, including the prohibition of forced labour and child labour, freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, and non-discrimination in employment, fully implementing the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the case of States parties to those conventions, and taking into account the principles embodied in those conventions in the case of those countries that are not States parties to thus achieve truly sustained economic growth and sustainable development;

(c) Strongly considering ratification and full implementation of ILO conventions in these areas, as well as those relating to the employment rights of minors, women, youth, persons with disabilities and indigenous people;

(d) Using existing international labour standards to guide the formulation of national labour legislation and policies;

(e) Promoting the role of ILO, particularly as regards improving the level of employment and the quality of work;

(f) Encouraging, where appropriate, employers and workers to consider ways and means for enhancing the sharing of workers in the profits of enterprises and promoting cooperation between workers and employers in the decisions of enterprises.

55. To achieve a healthy and safe working environment, remove exploitation, abolish child labour, raise productivity and enhance the quality of life requires:

(a) Developing and implementing policies designed to promote improved working conditions, including health and safety conditions;

(b) Improving health policies that reduce, with a view to eliminating, environmental health hazards and provide for occupational health and safety, in conformity with the relevant conventions, and providing informal sector enterprises and all workers with accessible information and guidance on how to enhance occupational safety and reduce health risks;

(c) Promoting, in accordance with national laws and regulations, sound labour relations based on tripartite cooperation and full respect for freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively;

(d) Setting specific target dates for eliminating all forms of child labour that are contrary to accepted international standards and ensuring the full enforcement of relevant existing laws, and, where appropriate, enacting the legislation necessary to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO standards, ensuring the protection of working children, in particular of street children, through the provision of appropriate health, education and other social services;

(e) Designing labour policies and programmes to help eradicate family poverty, which is a main cause of child labour, eliminating child labour and encouraging parents to send their children to school through, inter alia, the provision of social services and other incentives;

(f) Establishing policies and programmes to protect workers, especially women, from sexual harassment and violence;

(g) Encouraging incentives to public and private enterprises to develop, transfer and adopt technologies and know-how that improve the working environment, enhance occupational safety and reduce, with a view to eliminating, health risks.

56. The full participation of women in the labour market and their equal access to employment opportunities require:

(a) Establishing the principle of equality between men and women as a basis for employment policy and promoting gender-sensitivity training to eliminate prejudice against the employment of women;

(b) Eliminating gender discrimination, including by taking positive action, where appropriate, in hiring, wages, access to credit, benefits, promotion, training, career development, job assignment, working conditions, job security and social security benefits;

(c) Improving women’s access to technologies that facilitate their occupational and domestic work, encourage self-support, generate income, transform gender-prescribed roles within the productive process and enable them to move out of stereotyped, low-paying jobs;

(d) Changing those policies and attitudes that reinforce the division of labour based on gender, and providing institutional support, such as social protection for maternity, parental leave, technologies that facilitate the sharing and reduce the burden of domestic chores, and flexible working arrangements, including parental voluntary part-time employment and work-sharing, as well as accessible and affordable quality child-care facilities, to enable working parents to reconcile work with family responsibilities, paying particular attention to the needs of single-parent households;

(e) Encouraging men to take an active part in all areas of family and household responsibilities, including the sharing of child-rearing and housework.

D. Enhanced employment opportunities for groups with specific needs

57. The improvement of the design of policies and programmes requires:

(a) Identifying and reflecting the specific needs of particular groups, and ensuring that programmes are equitable and non-discriminatory, efficient and effective in meeting the needs of those groups;

(b) Actively involving representatives of these groups in planning, design and management, and monitoring, evaluating and reorienting these programmes by providing access to accurate information and sufficient resources to ensure that they reach their intended beneficiaries.

58. Employment policies can better address the problem of short- and long-term unemployment by:

(a) Incorporating, with the involvement of the unemployed and/or their associations, a comprehensive set of measures, including employment planning, re-education and training programmes, literacy, skills upgrading, counselling and job-search assistance, temporary work schemes, frequent contact with employment service offices and preparing for entry and re-entry into the labour market;

(b) Analysing the underlying causes of long-term unemployment and their effect on different groups, including older workers and single parents, and designing employment and other supporting policies that address specific situations and needs;

(c) Promoting social security schemes that reduce barriers and disincentives to employment so as to enable the unemployed to improve their capacity to participate actively in society, to maintain an adequate standard of living and to be able to take advantage of employment opportunities.

59. Programmes for entry or re-entry into the labour market aimed at vulnerable and disadvantaged groups can effectively combat the causes of exclusion on the labour market by:

(a) Complementing literacy actions, general education or vocational training by work experience that may include support and instruction on business management and training so as to give better knowledge of the value of entrepreneurship and other private-sector contributions to society;

(b) Increasing the level of skills, and also improving the ability to get a job through improvements in housing, health and family life.

60. Policies should seek to guarantee all youth constructive options for their future by:

(a) Providing equal access to education at the primary and secondary levels, with literacy as a priority and with special attention to girls;

(b) Encouraging the struggle against illiteracy and promoting literacy training in national languages in developing countries, in particular in Africa;

(c) Encouraging various actors to join forces in designing and carrying out comprehensive and coordinated programmes that stimulate the resourcefulness of youth, preparing them for durable employment or self-employment, and providing them with guidance, vocational and managerial training, social skills, work experience and education in social values;

(d) Ensuring the participation of youth, commensurate with their age and responsibility, in planning and decision-making with regard to their future.

61. The full participation of indigenous people in the labour market and their equal access to employment opportunities requires developing comprehensive employment, education and training programmes that take account of the particular needs of indigenous people.

62. Broadening the range of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities requires:

(a) Ensuring that laws and regulations do not discriminate against persons with disabilities;

(b) Taking proactive measures, such as organizing support services, devising incentive schemes and supporting self-help schemes and small businesses;

(c) Making appropriate adjustments in the workplace to accommodate persons with disabilities, including in that respect the promotion of innovative technologies;

(d) Developing alternative forms of employment, such as supported employment, for persons with disabilities who need these services;

(e) Promoting public awareness within society regarding the impact of the negative stereotyping of persons with disabilities on their participation in the labour market.

63. There is need for intensified international cooperation and national attention to the situation of migrant workers and their families. To that end:

(a) Governments are invited to consider ratifying existing instruments pertaining to migrant workers, particularly the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; 15/

(b) In accordance with national legislation, Governments of receiving countries are urged to consider extending to documented migrants who meet appropriate length-of-stay requirements and to members of their families whose stay in the receiving country is regular, treatment equal to that accorded their own nationals with regard to the enjoyment of basic human rights, including equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of religious practices, working conditions, social security, participation in trade unions and access to health, education, cultural and other social services, as well as equal access to the judicial system and equal treatment before the law;

(c) Governments of countries of origin, transit countries and countries of destination are urged to cooperate in reducing the causes of undocumented migration, safeguarding the basic human rights of undocumented migrants and preventing their exploitation;

(d) Governments of both receiving countries and countries of origin should adopt effective sanctions against those who organize undocumented migration, exploit undocumented migrants or engage in trafficking in undocumented migrants;

(e) Governments of countries of origin are urged to facilitate the return of migrants and their reintegration into their home communities and to devise ways of using their skills. Governments of countries of origin should consider collaborating with countries of destination and engaging the support of appropriate international organizations in promoting the return on a voluntary basis of qualified migrants who can play a crucial role in the transfer of knowledge, skills and technology. Countries of destination are encouraged to facilitate return migration on a voluntary basis by adopting flexible policies, such as the transferability of pensions and other work benefits.

E. A broader recognition and understanding of work and employment

64. A broader recognition and understanding of work and employment requires:

(a) Acknowledging the important contribution of unremunerated work to societal well-being and bringing respect, dignity and value to societal perceptions of such work and the people who do it;

(b) Developing a more comprehensive knowledge of work and employment through, inter alia, efforts to measure and better understand the type, extent and distribution of unremunerated work, particularly work in caring for dependants and unremunerated work done for family farms or businesses, and encouraging, sharing and disseminating information, studies and experience in this field, including on the development of methods for assessing its value in quantitative terms, for possible reflection in accounts that may be produced separately from, but are consistent with, core national accounts;

(c) Recognizing the relationship between remunerated employment and unremunerated work in developing strategies to expand productive employment, to ensure equal access by women and men to employment, and to ensure the care and well-being of children and other dependants, as well as to combat poverty and promote social integration;

(d) Encouraging an open dialogue on the possibilities and institutional requirements for a broader understanding of various forms of work and employment;

(e) Examining a range of policies and programmes, including social security legislation, and taxation systems, in accordance with national priorities and policies, to ascertain how to facilitate flexibility in the way people divide their time between education and training, paid employment, family responsibilities, volunteer activity and other socially useful forms of work, leisure and retirement, giving particular attention to the situation of women, especially in female-maintained households;

(f) Promoting socially useful volunteer work and allocating appropriate resources to support such work without diluting the objectives regarding employment expansion;

(g) Intensifying international exchange of experience on various aspects of change in the recognition and understanding of work and employment and on new forms of flexible working time arrangements over the lifetime.

65. The development of additional socially useful new types of employment and work requires, inter alia:

(a) Helping vulnerable and disadvantaged groups to integrate better into society and thus participate more effectively in economic and social development;

(b) Helping older persons who are dependent or providing support for families in need of educational assistance or social support;

(c) Strengthening social ties through these forms of employment and work, which represents an important achievement of social development policy.

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