Social protection and the Changing Labour Market: Finding the Missing Links

The ‘Social protection and the Changing Labour Market: Finding the Missing Links’ webinar took place on 27 March 2018, and aimed to contribute to the debate on linking social protection to sustainable employment.

The event was organised  by Social Protection for Employment (SPEC) Online Community as part of the Linking Social Protection to Sustainable Employment Series, and supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and German Development Cooperation (the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ).

The event was moderated by Simone Cecchini (Senior Social Affairs Officer, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), alongside presenter, Anna McCord (Research Associate, Overseas Development Institute) and panelists, Aparajita Sarangi (Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, India), Maria Eugenia Mujica (Vice Minister of Policy and Social Evaluation, the Ministry of Development and Social Inclusion, Peru), and Michael Samson (Director of Research, Economic Policy Research Institute, South Africa).

The webinar opened with a short presentation by the moderator to support discussion on social protection and employment generation among the panel of experts and representatives from the governments of India and Peru. It drew upon the findings from the South-South Knowledge Collaboration workshop on Designing and Implementing Social Protection Programmes for Employment held in Manila in 2017. The workshop was hosted by the Government of the Philippines, GIZ and DFAT.

 

recording is available here and the presentation here.

 

The report

Anna McCord presented the report ‘Linking Social Protection to Employment: Current Practices and Future Directions, exploring the chronic crisis of unemployment and working poverty. These are among the major development problems of our time as workers are poorly remunerated and working in adverse conditions without basic rights, security of employment, or social protection. The current social protection challenge is how to include the working age poor within the framework of social protection provision and enhance their prospects for future engagement in the labour market.

The figures and the analysis of the challenge drew on the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO), World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2017, as well as the programming observations presented at the Manila, workshop. The report shows that employment created is not sufficient to absorb the growing global labour force due to slow economic growth on account of the economic recessions of 2008/9 and 2016. Globally, there are 200 million unemployed people, which are concentrated among the youth. More than one billion workers are in vulnerable employment (workers engaged in own account, family, informal and precarious employment without access to contributory social protection).

The implications for social protection is that employment is not playing its anticipated role in poverty reduction at a time when ending poverty in all its forms everywhere is the major challenge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goal 1).

Therefore, there is a need for:

  • a realistic appraisal of the potential role of social protection in contexts of chronic labour market failure,
  • recognising the limits of the current provision in relation to the profound structural barriers to employment,
  • engaging critically with achievements to date,
  • and developing new thinking regarding the conceptualisation and implementation of social protection.

Michael Samson went on to address the potential for social protection to create new jobs in the context of labour supply, and the prismatic effect on the lower layer of social protection delivery agencies.

 

Peru’s experience with Haku Wiñay

The Haku Wiñay programme was established by the Ministry of Social Development and Inclusion (MIDIS) of Peru in 2012. It is implemented in the Andean Highlands and the Amazon region, where the country’s conditional cash transfer programme Juntos is operational. Haku Wiñay helps strengthen the production systems of families, promotes rural entrepreneurship, and provides financial education to integrate poor households into the market.

Maria Eugenia Mujica elaborated the key contextual issues considered when designing Haku Wiñay in Peru, namely the challenges of sustainability. In the structural context of Peru’s rural areas, where poverty was extremely high, most programmes were dedicated to agriculture in small family productive systems with low productivity. Around 73% of this population had only primary education and less than 50% had finished secondary education. 

Two evaluations were conducted to measure the sustainability of impacts and the challenges of sustainability:

  1. The first addressed the implementation of pilot programmes in Peru and Haku Wiñay itself in 2011 - 2013. This included the transfer of productive assets, training in technical abilities, support to the educational and health component, financial inclusion, and coaching to 2300 households in rural areas. The evaluation was carried out and the results were compared to other countries. It showed an increase in self consumption of what was produced in the area, an increase of 8% in family income, an increase in agriculture producers and improved technologies utilised
  2. The challenges involved issues with respect to local government coordination and intersectoral coordination. After these evaluations, adaptations were made to the region of the Amazon forest and other regions of Peru.

 

India’s Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

The Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) is an employment guarantee programme implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development in India. MGNREGA is the largest welfare programme in the world, with 100 million beneficiaries. To evaluate the quality of the programme, Aparajita highlighted the research management and agriculture-based activities of the programme, as well as its flexibility.

There is community-based monitoring of the programme, which was created by people for the people of the village - women represent 50% of beneficiaries. There are frequent visits on the part of the government. It participates with 24 departments in collaboration with the Ministry of Rural Development. Technical people are very important in working on the ground and keep the programme running.

 

Recommendations

The webinar continued with Anna providing recommendations from the report:

  • refresh policy and programme design in light of labour market analysis
  • create an enabling institutional context
  • extend evaluation to inform effective programming and accountability
  • extend the scale of social protection provision so that it can play a meaningful role in the context of mass labour market failure and form a basis for large scale complementary interventions.

Simone Cecchini closed the webinar with some highlights: 42% of workers live in poverty and 50% of all workers are in vulnerable employment. The reality is that people work hard and they are not able to leave poverty even if they work very hard. This is why a social protection system in this area is needed – it contributes to closing gaps in service delivery in isolated areas (such as in the case of Peru) and catering to excluded parts of the population (such as women in India). In Simone’s words: ‘we can graduate from programmes, but from poverty is more complicated, so we cannot graduate from social protection at all’.

This blog post is published as part of the Webinar Series, which brings together the summaries of webinars organised by socialprotection.org and partners on a variety of themes related to social protection. If you have any thoughts on the topic discussed, we would love to hear them. Please add your comments below!