Labour Market Information influences policy direction
AS economies and societies become more interrelated the need to determine and increase understanding of the status of the world of work becomes more and more important.
Well-timed and focused information on labour markets is required; information that can portray the type of economic activities that a country and its people are engaged in; information that can show the size and the composition of the labour force; information that can show the level of economic development reflected in a national labour market; information that shows the number of people without work and those looking for work; the type of existing employment inequalities as well as information on the cost attached to each specific population group in the labour market.
All these listed information items are part of labour market information (LMI) and their production require gathering, processing and analysis.
For ease of understanding, LMI is defined as any information concerning the size and composition of the labour market (labour supply and demand and their interaction), or part of the labour market, the way that labour market or any part of it functions, problems of that labour market, the opportunities which may be available to it, and employment-related intentions or aspirations of those who are part of the same labour market.
LMI is often produced and used by a network of institutions, persons and information with determined roles and functions which produce, archive, disseminate and use information, this network is often referred to as the labour market Information System (LMIS). LMIS are more or less defined depending on countries and are often embodied by labour market observatories.
The development of labour statistics is the principal role of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). This is done through the development of International Standards, the latest being the Labour Statistics Convention (No. 160, 1985).
The Convention lays down principles, obligations and recommendations for the collection and publication of labour and related statistics.
Futhermore, article 6c of Convention No. 88 (1985) on employment issues, gives the Public Employment Services the power to collect, analyze and supply data on the status of the labour market and its trends in cooperation with other authorities.
In the same manner, the Lesotho Labour Code Act of 1992 as Amended Section 21 (e) gives National Employment Servises the power to collect information and statistics regarding the labour market, including information on labour requirements and labour supply.
It is a clear fact that Lesotho is faced with a challenge of making informed policy decisions on issues of national development because of lack of up-to-date labour market information. For instance, we do not have statistics that inform our training needs. Training institutions are providing their service without knowledge of the needs of the labour market.
There is a need for a policy direction in this regard that will also be informed by clear statistical data.
Apart from that, it is a national challenge to properly regulate foreign direct investment because we do not have skills database which immediately informs us of who is eligible to be awarded a work permit.
It is therefore an uncontestable truth that the role played by labour statistics is noticeable in influencing policy formulation.
If there is team-up in statistical planning and National Strategies for Development of Statistics, then statistical data collection plans have the potential to produce Labour statistics and indicators that feed into development of policy instruments.
Examples are but not limited to, Macro-economic Policies, Poverty Reduction Strategy, Labour Market Policies, Employment policy, Skill Development Policies and Decent Work Country Programmes.
At the global level, the ILO plays a vital role in assembling, analysing and disseminating information to the world community.
Whilst at the national level, labour market information is generally gathered by the Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Labour and Employment.
However, the Ministry of Labour and Employment through the National Employment Services has the Labour market information section which undertakes administrative records data collection, processing and analysis.
It is important to mention that statistics collected indicates that unemployment figures from the Lesotho Force Survey of 1997 to 1999 stood at 34.2 and 27.3 percent respectively. In 2008 and 2009, these figures were 24.6 and 29.4 percent.
Examination of these figures shows a decrease from 1997 to 2008 and a rise in 2009. This rise has been associated with the global economic downturn of 2008. Although various countries have shown improvement in this indicator, in Lesotho unemployment remains a problem as the World Bank estimated a predicted rise to 46 percent.
On the other hand, unemployment rates by population groups are highest among youth at 30.5 percent.
The rate for females is the second highest at 27.2 percent while unemployment rate constituted 22.1 percent among males. In contrast, the labour force absorption rate is highest among males at 62.9 percent. Females follow with 46.9 percent while least are youth with (39.8 percent).
The high rate of unemployment coupled with lower rates of labour force absorption amongst the youth and females indicates that there is a need to develop programmes that will enhance youth and female employment. Consequently, LMI plays a vital role in influencing programmes of interventions that will address unemployment problems.
To address this challenge of lack of labour market information which the article elaborated its value, through the Lesotho Labour Policy that is in the pipeline the Government commits itself that it will ensure the establishment and strengthening institutional framework and developing of mechanisms for regular collection, analyzing and dissermination of labour market information.
To achieve this, the following strategies will be adopted: developing legislative and regulatory reforms on labour market information; establish a network of institutions that have mutually recognized roles and functions.
This will promote the production, storage, dissemination and use of labour market related information in order to maximize the potential for relevant and applicable policy; harmonize data collection, analysis and dissemination of data to international standards and conducting research on labour market requirements and monitor the impact of labour legislation on different stakeholders.
This article has been written by the Ministry of Labour and Employment. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us here: Tel: 22322565/22316255 Cell: 57905626
You can also find us on our Ministry’s website: www.labour.gov.ls OR on our Facebook page (Ministry of Labour and Employment Lesotho)