Towards harmonised and coordinated Labour Market Information Systems
The 2004 Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action for Promotion of Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa place special emphasis on labour market information systems (LMIS). The strengthening of data collection and analysis as well as LMIS is among the key recommended actions of the Action Plan, as part of a strategy of “setting up and continuously up-dating national databases on employment and poverty” and promoting “research, data collection and analysis of statistics on employment and poverty alleviation”. The 2008 African Union Social Policy Framework for Africa also includes the development of “effective and functional” LMIS among its labour and employment recommendations. This priority is further reaffirmed in the 2011-2013 MME Partnership Action Plan under the “labour market governance and capacity building” initiative which aims to “harmonise and coordinate” LMIS.
Yet African States are facing serious challenges in this area, especially given the predominance of the informal sector in their economies. Funding issues loom large on the development of LMIS. Other weaknesses identified by the African Union Commission (AUC) in a recent consultative process relate to the production of labour market information, statistical norms and quality control, enterprises repertory, data analysis and utilisation capacity for policy-making, as well as communication and coordination among stakeholders, including providers and users of labour market information. In addition national efforts are virtually not coordinated and harmonised, resulting in a lack of comparability at regional and continental level.
The AUC “Labour Market Information System Harmonization and Coordination Framework” Project (LMIS/CHP)
Based on this diagnostic, the African Union Commission has elaborated a “Labour Market Information System Harmonization and Coordination Framework” Project (LMIS/CHP). The project which was debated during the April 2011 Ministerial Meeting of the 8th session of the Labour and Social Affairs Commission (LASC) of the African Union, pursues the following objectives: i) defining a set of key labour/employment indicators that are relevant to the follow-up of the Ouagadougou 2004 Plan of Action; (ii) facilitating the harmonisation, coordination and coherence of the labour and employment data collection, treatment, analysis and dissemination at all levels; (iii) ensuring a regular production of labour harmonised and coordinated labour statistics as defined on the above item (i); (iv) promoting awareness of, and accessibility to reliable, affordable and accurate labour/employment data to all the stakeholders; and (v) enhancing technical and institutional capacity of Member States LMIS. Within the framework of the project, a Minimum List of Labour, Employment and TVET Indicators, as well as a Plan of Action for the production of harmonized labour statistics have already been elaborated by the AUC with the support of the UNDP-West Africa Regional Office in Dakar. The Steering Committee of the project comprises the AUC, ECA, AfDB, as well as representatives of National Statistical Institutes, AFRISTAT and partners such as EUROSTAT, ILO and UNDP.
The AFRISTAT experience
Since its creation, AFRISTAT has acquired considerable experience in supporting the development of LMIS, not least through the multi-country “LMIS-AFRISTAT” project supported by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) which covers Cameroon, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia. This project was initiated in 2004 with the objective of addressing the dire situation of labour markets statistics in the target countries, where “the only available labour statistics were sparse, scattered, not harmonised nor consistent with any standard in terms of definitions and concepts”. The project which is currently in its second phase of implementation (2009-2012) therefore seeks to improve labour market information and to reinforce poverty monitoring systems with a view to providing appropriate information for public policy formulation and assessment by building the capacity of governments, social partners and national institutions of beneficiary countries for regular collection, analysis and dissemination of information relating to the labour market.
AFRISTAT is also involved in the RECAP project funded by the European Commission which aims at building capacity for the production and analysis of decent work indicators in several Latin American and West African countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. This three-year project (2010-2013) led by the ILO International Training Centre intends to contribute to the strengthening of LMIS as a basis for the formulation and monitoring of public policies promoting decent work. The project will involve key stakeholders in the beneficiary countries such as public employment and social protection services, statistical institutes, national employment observatories, national research centres and social partners.