ICTs creating new jobs, making labour markets more innovative: World Bank
DEVELOPMENT| Sept. 12, 2013, 9:08 a.m.
Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are transforming the world of work, creating new job opportunities and making labour markets more innovative, inclusive, and global, says a new policy note released by the World Bank.
“ICTs are influencing employment both as an industry that creates jobs and as a tool that empowers workers to access new forms of work, in new and more flexible ways,” said Chris Vein, World Bank Chief Innovation Officer for Global ICT Development. “The emerging ICT-enabled employment opportunities matter because countries around the world are looking to create more good jobs, which have positive economic and social implications for workers and for society.”
The new policy note, “Connecting to Work: How Information and Communication Technologies Could Help Expand Employment Opportunities,” identifies three global drivers responsible for the increase in ICT-related jobs worldwide:
- Greater connectivity – more than 120 countries now have over 80 percent market penetration of mobile telephones
- Digitization of more aspects of work – today, telecommuting and outsourcing have become standard business practices globally
- More globalized skills – India and the Philippines have become major outsourcing hubs thanks to their English language skills, and other countries are targeting the sector for future growth.
ICTs are providing new avenues for job creation that could help tackle global unemployment. For instance, the development of the mobile phone applications industry has created new opportunities for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A firm that provides a digital application to the Apple app store, for example, gains access to over 500 million app store account holders.
ICTs connect people to jobs. Online employment marketplaces are helping an estimated 12 million people worldwide find work by connecting them with employers globally. Babajob in India, Duma and M-Kazi in Kenya, and Souktel in the Middle East and North Africa are examples of job search services using internet-based and mobile tools. Such services empower workers by making labor markets more transparent and inclusive; for instance, Souktel targets low-income and marginalized communities.
ICTs also support innovation that has created new, more flexible forms of employment and work:
- Online contracting uses ICT to increase access to work opportunities worldwide, mainly for smaller employers. Popular services include oDesk and Elance. In 2012, about 2.5 million jobs were posted on these services, for tasks ranging from writing to customer service to software development.
- Microwork platforms break down large business processes into smaller discrete tasks – such as data entry and verification, copy-writing, or graphic design – and distribute them to workers across geographic boundaries. The platforms include CloudFactory, MobileWorks, and Samasource. Analysts suggest the market size is about US$1 billion today and could grow to about US$5 billion by 2018.
ICTs create opportunities, but also pose new challenges for workers and employers. By enabling new forms of work, ICT also changes the structure of jobs, the way people develop their career, and the way they work. Many ICT-enabled jobs are temporary or contract-based, for example, leading to a separation of work from social safety nets such as health insurance or pensions. But, for young people especially, they offer a way into more formal careers, as well as providing a supplementary income.
“The potential gains from ICT-enabled work are not without risks and challenges, but the implications of ICT for work are inevitable and will benefit those students, workers, firms, and governments who prepare for them. Our aim in this note is to help governments consider how they can prepare for these changes and expand ICT-related employment opportunities,” explained Siddhartha Raja, World Bank ICT Policy Specialist and co-author of the policy note.
To maximize the positive impact of ICTs on employment, the note recommends that policymakers pay attention to five enabling systems, adapting the mix as needed to the country context:
- Human capital systems: A labour pool with appropriate ICT skills, and the awareness and soft skills that give competitive advantage in the labour market.
- Infrastructure systems: Ubiquitous connectivity to ICT; access to electricity and transport; infrastructure to support innovation and adoption of technology by SMEs.
- Social systems: Networks of trust and recognition for workers and employers, social safety nets, and measures to minimize possible negative outcomes of ICT-enabled employment.
- Financial systems: Efficient and accountable systems to ensure timely payments; and access to finance to support innovation and entrepreneurship.
- Regulatory systems: An enabling environment that creates employment opportunities and increases labour market flexibility while protecting the rights of workers.
MORE DEVELOPMENT NEWS
Samsung inspires soccer students with ‘I See Your Dream’ campaign in GhanaSamsung has come out in support of youth football development in Ghana with a coaching camp for 44 young soccer students selected from two junior high schools from Accra Metropolis. Read More
Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa to support 72 MW solar PV power plant in CameroonThe Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) approved at the end of 2014 a USD 777,000 preparation grant for JCM Greenquest Solar Corporation to support the development of a 72 MW Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power plant as the first renewable energy Independent Power Producer (IPP) in Cameroon. Read More
One primary school pupil, one tablet: Dakar mayorKhalifa Sall, the mayor of the Senegalese capital Dakar, has an ambitious plan to equip all the pupils of primary schools of his city with tablets. Read More
Tigo brightens Christmas for over 3,000 children and head portersAs part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) drive, mobile network operator, Tigo Ghana has climax its Christmas party for less privileged children and female head porters in Accra. Read More
Airtel, Rotary Club to provide clean water for school in Kajiado CountyBharti Airtel has partnered with Rotary Club of Nairobi East for a safe water harvesting project that will provide clean drinking and cooking water Enkeriyan Primary School in Kajiado County and the neighbouring community. Read More
Airtel to offer mentorship programmes to Good Samaritan Orphans and Destitute centreBharti Airtel will offer mentorship programmes to the Good Samaritan Orphans and Destitute Centre in Kayole’s Soweto. The programme is part of the Airtel spirit where Airtel staff voluntarily give both time and expertise at individual and corporate level to positively impact the community. Read More
Airtel enables students in Siaya County to freely access learning materials onlineBharti Airtel now provides free data connectivity to Sigweng Karuoth Primary School in Siaya County, Kenya, as part of its efforts to support Kenya’s education system. Read More
Nescafe inspires African bloggers at Start Conference 2014The Nescafe Start Conference 2014 has ended in Accra with a call on young tech entrepreneurs to use their creative ideas and skills to generate innovative business enterprises that would help create job opportunities. Read More
Huawei Ghana refurbishes Accra Central LibraryHuawei Ghana has officially presented a new state of the art library to the Minister of Communication, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, on behalf of the Ghana Library Authority. Read More
Vodafone Ghana Foundation ends 2014 with “Bring a Cheer to Your Community” CampaignVodafone Ghana says it is receiving proposals from Non Governmental Organisations whose focus is on contributing to the quality of life in rural communities across the country. Read More
FEATURED STORYUCC launches 2015 ACIA awards
Uganda has launched the fifth Annual Communications and Innovation Awards, which celebrate and foster ICT innovation and achievement.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHKenya’s digital TV battle hots up
Kenya’s journey to Digital TV broadcasting took a new turn this week, when the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) accused three local media firms of intent to disrupt the process.
COMPANY NEWSAlbany CTG, Microsoft, collaborate on School of Government Program
The University at Albany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG) has announced its collaboration with Microsoft Corporation to deliver executive level training to government leaders in Africa ...VMware reports fourth quarter and full year 2014 results
VMware, the global leader in virtualisation and cloud infrastructure, has announced financial results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2014.MTN to empower African businesses with AWS Direct Connect
MTN Group today announced it would be the first African company to offer Amazon Web Services (AWS) Direct Connect to business customers across multiple countries on the ...