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Commonwealth countries need to create 50,000 jobs every day for growing number of young people seeking work – new research

Written by Maximiliano Mendez-Parra, Dirk Willem te Velde

Commonwealth countries need to create 50,000 jobs every day to provide work for the growing number of young people entering labour markets, new research by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has found.

As the leaders of 53 countries gather in London for the Commonwealth Summit, ODI experts have calculated that 17.5 million new jobs need to be created each year until 2030 to provide opportunities for young people entering the labour market. This is 50% more than the 12 million new jobs Commonwealth countries created on average each year between 2003 and 2016.

A new briefing, 'Opportunities for Commonwealth development: Creating jobs, sharing prosperity and increasing resilience' sets out how the Summit provides Commonwealth countries with an important opportunity to promote trade and investment, which can create more quality jobs.

Dirk Willem te Velde, head of the International Economic Development Group at ODI, said: ‘Our research demonstrates the urgent need to promote trade and investment to create more quality jobs. As more people enter the workforce, Commonwealth countries need to redouble their efforts to make sure levels of employment do not drop.

‘Trade is growing rapidly between Commonwealth countries and offers big opportunities for job growth. This is particularly important for the poorest and most vulnerable states who export more than a quarter of their goods to other member states.’

By studying population data for each country, researchers found that the Commonwealth needs to create 17.5 million jobs each year - 50,000 each day. India needs to create the most jobs (7.4 million), followed by Nigeria (2.3m), Pakistan (1.8m) and Bangladesh (1.0m).

The paper outlines how trade in goods within the Commonwealth currently supports an estimated 32.5 million jobs in member states. The ODI and the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Trade Out of Poverty have previously highlighted five priority areas for promoting trade within the Commonwealth:

  • Reducing the costs and risks of trade and investment
  • Boosting service trade through regulatory co-operation
  • Making trade more inclusive for women and young people
  • Addressing the special needs of small and vulnerable states
  • Strengthening partnerships through government, business, diaspora and civil society

Maximiliano Mendez-Parra, Senior Research Fellow at ODI, said: ‘To increase the number of jobs at such a rate would require a significant step-up in investment and fostering trade compared to what we have seen in recent years.

‘The Commonwealth has an opportunity in London to create better trade conditions among member states, for goods and services, which can help create more and better jobs.’


Notes to editors

  • The briefing note 'Opportunities for Commonwealth development: Creating jobs, sharing prosperity and increasing resilience' is due to be published on Friday, April 13
  • Using data from The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) Population Division, ODI calculated for each country how many people will enter the working age population over the period 2015-2030. Dividing this total number by 15 years allowed us to calculate the total number of additional people entering the working age population each year. We then assumed two thirds of the working age population participate in the labour force (which is appropriate for the average, but varies markedly by country) and calculated the total number of people entering the labour force
  • Data from the World Development Indicators (WDI) for the period of 2003-2016 indicates some 12 million additional jobs were created each year over that period. This means there needs to be a 50% increase in the rate of job creation to meet population growth
  • The five priority policy areas come from the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Trade Out of Poverty and Overseas Development Institute April 2018 paper, 'Our shared prosperous future: An agenda for values-led trade, inclusive growth and sustainable jobs for the Commonwealth'

For more information or to arrange an interview with one of the authors of the briefing, please contact James Rush on [email protected] or +44 (0)7808 791265