Aspiring international development workers, diplomats, and change-makers within the development sector (from social enterprises to those in the private and corporate sectors) need to know and acknowledge the trends and challenges currently being experienced in the development sector.But with economic growth continuing to disappoint with the same trend remaining globally widespread, collaborative partnerships are required to combat deteriorating labour market conditions and rising global unemployment.
With the global GDP hitting a six-year low in 2016, projected economic growth and global employment in 2017 remained in a downward trend. Deteriorating labour market conditions are expected to be felt much harder in regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean as compared to developed countries throughout Europe and North America.
Drawing from research derived by UN agencies and the International Labour Organization (ILO), among other civil society organizations, here are the current hiring practices and trends in the rapidly shifting development career marketplace.
Understanding the 21st Century Global Agenda
The arrival of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 and its successor, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2015, signified a change in the development sector. These interdependent goals provide a brief outline for the development sector, impacting countries and stakeholders invested in the development sector.
Observing how both the MDGs and SDGs impact the development sector provides a glimpse into current and future trends within the development job market. Both development goals, particularly the SDGs, dictate certain trends within the job market. SDGs will direct resources and labour forces within the job market.
And with the global agenda structured around the recently introduced global framework, the SDGs, expect to see the international career market promote roles within funding, private sector engagement, and localized job markets.
Current Hiring Practices
While a degree in International Development, especially a master’s, remains highly valued, those looking to shift their career path into the global development sector will find many of their skills and experience in high demand.
Professionals with skills and experience in demand by the development sector will find only a few barriers to entry within the employment landscape. The expansion of the global development sector, coupled with its rapid evolution, means professionals can leverage their skills into roles within global development organizations.
In their report “World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2017,” the ILO examines the current global labour market, taking stock of the most up-to-date employment developments, focusing on trends in all regions, from the developed to developing countries.
The report published by the ILO has found that current hiring practices experienced growth in developed nations, while diverging economic paths and poor quality employment continue to prevail in developing countries. Job creation rates in developed countries remained stable through 2017 despite enduring geopolitical instabilities.
Gender dimensions of employment still remain, partitioning gender demographics in all regions of the development sector. Two interrelated dimensions, the division of labour and socio-cultural norms and stereotypes, continue to lead to the persistence of gender gaps. Existing inequalities will continue to present a challenge in terms of finding fair and decent work opportunities.
Trends in the Development Sector
The ambitious agenda of the SDGs is shaping current trends within the development sector.
Arising from the 2030 Agenda, there are six trends that are paving the course for the development sector. They are as follows:
All together, they are altering the course for the global labour market. These six trends will have an impact on prospective jobs throughout the developed, emerging, and developing countries, challenging and modifying current and future hiring practices.
Technological innovation, for example, is expected to reshape the development sector. Rapidly developing technologies will see future hiring practices experience a tremendous shift.
The emergence of technology will address the challenges facing the development sector. Food shortages, water scarcity, increasing natural hazards will soon be effectively managed by harnessing technological opportunities.
The potential for technology to address issues surrounding food and water security, health, education, climate change and environment, among others, will create a platform for future hiring practices, new job prospects, and specialized roles within the development sector.
Policy efforts will also play a role in overcoming structural impediments to growth, particularly among these six trends. Policies set out by local governing bodies and the UN will address the root causes of global inequalities with regard to global unemployment and vulnerable employment.
Achieving a policy mix that incorporates macroeconomic and microeconomic policies will undoubtedly raise investment demand within emerging and developing countries, affecting the nature of economic growth.
While the global economic outlook continues to remain marred by uncertainties, the present framework of the development sector is improving challenges within the space.
As outlined by the Overseas Development Institute, decent work is resulting in reductions in working poverty, meaning closing the poverty gap is within reach. The development of new labour forces as seen in technological innovation has become a catalytic driver for employment and economic upturn.
Collective action brought on by social enterprises and the private sector is helping drive development and labour market opportunities despite the unpredictability and volatility of the global economy.
As the development sector continues to broaden to become more inclusive within the private and corporate sectors, and business-oriented organisations, prospective job seekers should seek to widen their skill base and experience to remain competitive.