Experts are wondering how to fulfill the full employment target of Sustainable Development Goal №8 when job growth isn’t keeping pace with global population growth. “Between 600 million and 1 billion people are entering the labour market between now and 2030,” according to Mattias Lundberg, an economist and director of the World Bank’s youth employment global partnership. “The pace of job creation isn’t nearly as fast.” The International Labor Organization estimates the world economy needs to add 40 million jobs per year to employ everyone of working age.
The most successful plan for job growth could be the Sustainable Development Goals themselves. The investments in meeting the global goals for health care, education, water, sustainable energy, urban infrastructure could be massive job-creators. In Tanzania, for example, agtech company Esoko is working with Restless Development to fill a talent gap by skilling up youth. Increasing the employability of Tanzania’s youth will help alleviate poverty among Tanzania’s low-income rural farmers, by enabling Esoko to expand its reach and connect them to more customers.
The win-win-win of job-creation, entrepreneurship and social problem-solving is particularly important in Africa, where youth unemployment is the world’s highest and meeting SDGs will require the steepest gains. Many of the top ranked entrepreneurs on the continent are starting businesses aimed at tackling problems like agricultural productivity, energy access, and financial services expansion.
Micro-franchising is helping create jobs for self-motivated young people. Kenya is helping to connect youth to online freelancing sites and prepare them for the gig economy. Already, 40,000 youths have secured work through freelancing sites like Amazon’s MTurk and Kenyan startup KuHustle.
The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and other organizations are working to spur social enterprise growth by matching ventures with skills. ANDE is expanding its career series for graduates at four Kenyan universities last year with talent and job readiness workshops.
The African digital fintech disruption is also helping. M-PESA and BIMA both employ large workforces of agents to educate customers about new services and convert digital money to cash. That’s SDG №9.3: “Increase the access of small-scale industrial and other enterprises, in particular in developing countries, to financial services, including affordable credit, and their integration into value chains and markets.”