Focusing on Growing Sectors/Jobs Strategies.... Towards Stage 3?

By now it is clearer that the three big-picture changes moving from employment to labor intermediation services (Stage 2) occur and interact in real time: creating new and linked services, improved management and efficiency, and the advancement of a national intermediation market. Attempts to script how the three interact would zap their ability to adapt to changing market needs, although it might make it easier to describe in this book!

If one were to attempt to direct the flow of the intermediation services tide, the most appropriate focus for developing countries in Stage 2 should be where it is needed most - in sectors where either employment is growing or future investment/employment is desired or predicted. This makes intuitive sense as this is where the greater consequences for more efficient hiring occurs - less time, better match of employee to job, more productive employees, and better articulation of skill needs. One more time, it is duly noted that good employment generation presents a fundamental obstacle in the developing world, of which intermediation plays just a small part.

Here the point is that innovation and expansion flows more naturally when focused on where better intermediation is needed. This focus could be on attracting or meeting new foreign or domestic investment or contributing to a wave - or even a ripple - of employment growth, be it in a region or sector.

There are two levels where the employment growth spotlight is worth considering. As a national intermediation system in Stage 2 is building through the three big-picture changes, the first level to examine is local and regional. Local and regional improvements in labor intermediation can have spillover effects expanding employment by improving the articulation of skill needs, bringing in new intermediation actors, and eventually being able to apply intermediation lessons in other sectors or nationally. An example from Mexico: Mexico’s fundamental employment problem has been described as too large a cohort of low productivity labor in the middle, and too few high-end jobs.60 Even in this environment, employment is growing in tourism in coastal areas but with problems. There is too much rotation and rotating poorly qualified workers making it difficult for the industry to be more competitive to deliver high-end service that require more workers more continuity and skill from air conditioning to refrigeration to waiters. In Riviera Maya, Mexico, the local hotel association, AHRM (Asociacion Hoteleros de la Riviera Maya) worked in partnership with the local vocational-technical institutions and public employment services and become an intermediary institution to place students in hotel jobs, create more varied types of internships and work orientation. The dynamic interaction is leading to curriculum changes and more stable hiring from local vocational-technical schools few of whom had previously been hired in the local industry. Fast forward, the collaboration on intermediation ended up setting in motion better articulation by the local industry of what they needed, an expansion of job listings nationally, and greater hiring of local young people who will more likely advance in technical careers in tourism.

This is a small example of where growing sectors can set in motion a range of interconnections between schooling, training, and jobs (Box 5.1).

The second, national level leads us to the final chapter. The lack of good jobs is a “problem” of very different dimensions and content between developing and middle-income economies. Not a rocket science-type revelation. However, this should lead us to thinking that integrating better intermediation in the new jobs agenda is and should take on a different character or path when applied to such diverse economies. Chapter 5 speculates, with some developing country examples moving in this direction, also about where intermediation might fit in the new development agenda for jobs. It postulates that a Stage 3 is emerging in which labor intermediation services become better integrated and interconnected not merely as a labor market policy but by playing a contributory role in workforce development, social and labor policy, and economic development.

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