Monday, August 27, 2012

What does a good job mean to you?

When we think about a good job most of us see an income that is sufficient to cover our needs, flexibility in the management of our time, health and other benefits and, very important, a job that we enjoy doing and gives us a sense of purpose. Yet, at the policy level, coming up with a definition of a “Good Job” is not easy.
The new World Development Report on Jobs defines a good job as one “which can support increases in household expenditures or job satisfaction over time, contribute to faster productivity growth at the aggregate level, or do more to foster social cohesion.” The definition thus goes beyond the individual and takes into consideration effects in the economy and society at large. An implication is that the concept of a good job is relative and will depend on social preference, country context and development priorities. An alternative view is that of the ILO and their “decent work” agenda that considers that work “is a source of personal dignity and family stability.” Good jobs have universal characteristics and require policies that enforce core labor standards, increase earnings, extend social protection and promote social dialogue. Yet a third view introduced in the forthcoming Strategy for Social Protection and Labor for the World Bank focuses on two dimensions: the stream of earnings generated by the job, and workers psychological and physical wellbeing. “Low quality jobs are those that generate low and/or volatile income streams – often not sufficient to lift individuals and their dependents out of poverty – and/or that expose them to undue risk of disease, psychological stress, or degrading lifestyles.”
Can we reach an operational consensus? Should the focus be on policies that gradually help people access jobs/occupations that increase their earnings while expanding the coverage of regulations that enforce basic standards in terms of working conditions as well as access to social insurance programs?

  • How to differentiate between a “good” or “decent” job and a “bad” job where no individual should engage?
  • Creating enough stable jobs that pay high salaries and provide access to labor regulations and social insurance is an elusive task over the medium term; what are the alternatives.
  • What types of policies can be used to expand the coverage of social insurance programs to the informal sector – including wage employees and the self-employed?
  • What can governments do to better enforce core labor standards?
  • What should be the strategy to eradicate child labor?
  • What can governments do to better regulate and enforce basic standards in terms of health and safety?
A job means different things to different people, and some jobs contribute more to a nation's economic and social development than others. Wages, stability, insurance, and social protection can all make a job a "good" one. Sometimes the individual, economic, and social aspects of employment come together - but it's not always possible to bring all the good aspects of jobs together.

So how should policymakers confront these trade offs? What does a good job mean to you? We want to know what you think your country needs to do to create good jobs. 

Share your thoughts here or on Facebook.

Source: The Jobs Knowledge Platform


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