A recent report by the International Labor Organization shows that only one-fourth of the world’s workers have stable contracts. The organization’s main annual report covers more than 180 countries and over 84 percent of the workforce.

The remaining three-quarters are employed informally, illegally, on a temporary basis, with short-term contracts, through unpaid family work or are self-employed, said the ILO’s World Employment Social Outlook 2015 report titled, “The Changing Nature of Jobs.”

Among workers who earn salaries, only 42 percent have permanent contracts.

The finding revealed a clear shift away from reliable full-time jobs to an increase in short-term contracts and irregular hours. The standard model of full-time work is becoming less and less representative of today’s global job market.

This worldwide trend of moving away from more permanent employment risks “perpetuating a vicious circle of weak global demand and slow job creation” that has strongly affected many countries since the 2008 crisis, ILO said. This decline of steady jobs is accompanied by soaring global unemployment. Last year, 201 million people found themselves jobless, 30 million more than before the 2008 financial crisis.

There is some variation between countries and income levels. In higher-income countries, more than three-quarters of workers are employed on permanent contracts, although less than two-thirds of those are full time, the ILO report said. In middle-income countries, almost 72 percent of workers are employed without a contract and in 13 low-income countries with available data, only 5.7 percent.

The permanence level of the employment is closely tied to income, with permanent workers earning significantly more than non-permanent ones, creating a nearly unbreakable cycle.

Many of these workers find themselves in dire poverty, with nearly one-fourth last year living on and supporting their families on less than $2 a day. What’s more, 10 percent of the global workforce lived on earnings of less than $1.25.

Nonetheless, these numbers show vast improvement from 20 years ago, when half of the world’s workers lived well below the $2 poverty line threshold.

“In some cases, non-standard forms of work can help people get a foothold into the job market. But these emerging trends are also a reflection of the widespread insecurity,” said Guy Ryder, ILO’s director-general.

– Alison Decker

Sources: The Guardian, Business Insider CNBC Business Standard
Photo: Flickr

Is Small-Scale Mining a Sustainable Livelihood?Artisanal or small-scale mining practices provide income to millions of the world’s poorest people. A lack of knowledge, policy, and regulation in the industry means that most small-scale miners operate illegally and without organization or oversight. A recent report by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) aims to shed some light on the issues of small-scale and artisanal mining.

Much small-scale mining takes place in remote areas with poor living and working conditions. It is known for its severe pollutant production and subjection of poor and marginalized workers, including women and children, to unsafe working conditions. However, since identifying areas for improvement in the industry, IIED hopes to work with policymakers to improve lives and local environmental impacts.

IIED will accomplish this by connecting miners, their families, and communities with other stakeholders, including authorities on the local, national, and international levels. The organization will gather information and data and coordinate with policymakers to foster dialogue and address challenges. The IIED believes that with greater transparency in the industry, small-scale mining can become a sustainable and safe livelihood for many.

Historically, governments and institutions have overlooked small-scale mining as an industry worth investigation, investment, or support, choosing instead to focus on large-scale mining and small-scale operations in other industries such as forestry and agriculture. Part of the reason for this is the stigma against small-scale mining as a problematic and undesirable practice. But neglecting the industry does nothing to improve its conditions. Authorities must recognize economic realities and focus on improving workers’ lives and working conditions.

The widespread practice of artisanal mining is driven in no small part by the global demand for minerals such as tin and tungsten, for use in gadgets like your smartphone. Despite the rapidly growing technology market, little progress has been made in developing sustainable mining practices over the last decade.

It is estimated that 20 to 30 million people derive the majority of their income from small-scale mining: ten times as many people as large-scale, industrial mining. The income from those 20-30 million supports an additional 100 million people. With so many people relying on these traditional practices for their livelihoods, more must be done in the sector to improve efficiency and working conditions, provide education and resources, and reduce negative environmental and health impacts.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: IIED, The Guardian
Photo: IIED

2Seeds Network pairs recent university graduates with African village communities in order to develop and implement small, sustainable, and efficient agricultural projects designed to meet the needs of each village. The projects aim to support and enhance food and income security by training rural farmers in effective agricultural practices. 2Seeds trains its young project coordinators in leadership, accountability, and cooperation for the betterment of local African communities.

2Seeds Network seeks a partnership between Africa and America for the improvement of both continents. It fosters globally engaged and empathetic leadership on the American side, while improving basic living conditions for those on the African side. African community leaders and farmers benefit from the energy, passion, and creativity of young Americans, who in turn will engage others in global, humanitarian action.

The ultimate goals of the 2Seeds Network are to:

  • promote self-directed initiative and ownership in African agricultural production and trade
  • initiate sustainable change in local and national African economies
  • develop critically-needed transformative leaders in America

2Seeds Network uses the metrics of food security and income security to measure its programs’ effectiveness  Though each project is tailored to the needs of its partner community, Project Coordinators work to achieve two primary goals: that every family grows enough food to eat throughout the year, and that each family increases its income to more than $1 per day.

Stay tuned for an interview with a 2Seeds Network Project Coordinator working on the Lutindi Project in Tanzania. For more information about the organization, visit the 2Seeds Network website.

– Kat Henrichs
Source: 2Seeds Nework
Photo:Agra Soils Research Group