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Better jobs for Asia


Asian economies are rapidly transforming from East to West, creating jobs for a growing population of young workers. But can working conditions keep pace? IDRC-supported research is building an evidence base that shows how creating better job opportunities can go hand in hand with sustaining growth.

Employment is abundant across Asia. According to the World Bank, in the last decade, South Asia alone has created some 800,000 jobs per month. But job quality often leaves much to be desired. As of 2016, of the eight core conventions established by the International Labour Organization to protect workers, Myanmar had ratified only three, and India only four. Bangladesh and Myanmar have set minimum wages, but full-time workers may still earn as little as CA $80/month.

In South and Southeast Asia, garment factories have drawn millions of agricultural workers from rural areas. In Bangladesh alone, five million people — 85% of them women — work in the sector. Most of Vietnam’s two million garment workers are women under 25 years old. While these manufacturing jobs bring much needed income, labour standards are often disregarded, leaving women and youth especially vulnerable. Countries across Asia are searching for the right combination of rules and incentives to stimulate and support inclusive businesses as a stepping stone to prosperity.

Promoting inclusive growth and fair employment

IDRC is helping Asian research institutions to identify options that will create the conditions for inclusive growth, leading to more and better employment. Supported research focuses on the most vulnerable, such as enhancing training opportunities for women and youth; identifying the right frameworks to protect workers and improve their conditions; and pinpointing the components of small business success. IDRC also invests in research leadership in the region, so a new generation can help steer decisions that will shape the labour environment in Asia for years to come.

The PDF version (930 KB) also includes:

  • Counting women into the workforce
  • Strengthening frameworks for fair employment
  • Creating a climate of success for entrepreneurs
  • Promoting leadership in labour and trade

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More to explore in Charting Change, the ongoing series about innovative projects in the developing world