In a recent report, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) have forecast that the labour trends over the course of 2015 and beyond will remain challenging on a global level. The report, which is summarised with the troubling phrase, "Renewed turbulence over the employment horizon" highlights a number of trends affecting employment this year, including the increasing employment gap caused by the economic crisis, which shows no signs of going away. As economic improvement and development in some countries picks up, it is not a global trend as yet, and this very fact causes increasing inequality and threatens global growth and recovery.
Global Employment Gap
The report makes sobering reading, with some of the numbers highlighted so large they’re difficult to fully comprehend. In 2014, there were 201 million people globally out of work. In the next four years, this number will grow to 212 million. And if that sounds big - it is. That’s a total of 31 million more people across the globe struggling with unemployment, compared to the years before the economic crash of 2008.
To address this issue alone, there would need to be 280 million new jobs created globally by 2019, to both replenish the positions lost since the crisis, and also find new positions for the number of new labour market entrants who will by then be seeing work.
It is the global youth that are particularly hit by this massive increase in unemployment, with youth unemployment globally running at a level three times higher than other age groups. Among the global unemployed are 74 million young people, who should be finding their feet, growing their skills and building the foundations of their careers right now. This is despite the ever increasing number of young people who achieve great academic results, and this dispiriting fact contributes to the unrest and dissatisfaction among the younger age group the world over.
Across the developed world, where figures are available, the report notes that the richest 10% of the population own around 30-40% of the available wealth while the poorest 10% control only 2%. This is largely a result of the ’hollowing out’ of the jobs market, where the demand for middle-skill workers has fallen because of increased automation, leaving a higher number of middle and low-skilled workers competing for a finite pool of low-skill work.
This is where the impact of the issue leaves the world of work and enters the realms of politics and broader society. The wage disparity between rich and poor, and the lack of available middle-skill positions threatens to spill over into an increasing amount of social unrest. This is particularly likely in countries with high youth unemployment, and the large upheaval in European politics in the past six months bears testimony to the social impact of employment issues.
The eyes of the world are on government policy, as so many different countries seek to address long-term and youth unemployment issues, wage inequality and labour market exit. 2015 is certainly not going to be a quiet year in the global political and employment sphere.